Archive for ‘Side Dishes’

July 11, 2011

Pesto Pasta Salad

(NOTE: since the publishing of this post, it was accepted to Tastespotting, Foodgawker is still pending. I get so frustrated with those sites sometimes, but it sure is satisfaction when they accept my photos – a challenge!)

During the summer the easy no fuss side dishes are a must-have! Nobody wants to turn on the stove or oven and heat up the house in the middle of summer. A foodie included! While a friend and I were roaming the Farmer’s Market this past weekend, she recalled one of the vendors who made a pasta salad with pesto and toasted pine nuts. She said she sometimes that salad was her only reason for going to the Market. However, there was no sign of the pesto and toasted pine nut salad in sight; so we decided to make our own version.

There was a cheese in the salad that after making this version with mozzarella, we realized the salad at the Market probably had Ricotta Salata. So, maybe that would be a good addition to this salad. We’ll try it out next time.

 

1lb pasta (Campenelli used in the photo above, pesto clings best to textured pastas – getting in all the nooks and crannies)

8oz fresh bocconcini mozzarella (fresh mozzarella)

1 cup pesto (homemade or your favorite store bought)

1 cup sliced grape tomatoes

1/2 very finely sliced red onion

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Cook pasta according to directions on the box, making sure to season the water generously with salt. (think sea water. While the pasta is cooking is the only opportunity to infuse the pasta with flavor).

While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts, thinly slice the onions and cut up the tomatoes. I like to quarter the tomatoes and the larger tomatoes I will cut the quarters in half.

For the cheese, I pull pieces off the ball of cheese rather than cutting it, that gives the pieces a “rustic” feel and the chucks of cheese wrap around the pasta.

Once the pasta is done cooking, strain it and rinse it immediately with cold water. Add the pesto and stir until all the pasta is coated. Then add the onion, tomatoes and cheese and toss.

Sprinkle the top with toasted pine nuts and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

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May 30, 2011

Braised Artichokes (a little How-to)

This week grocery shopping, I decided to part with my usual organized self and go without a list. I know, right? Scary.  I am not abandoning my usually weekly menu planning, I am just doing it a little backwards. I decided to go to the store and pick out the things that looked good, were in season or, in some cases, more affordable (let’s admit that has to be considered more and more these days).

The one thing I knew was that I wanted to make a new artichoke dish, and lucky for me artichokes are in season and they looked good. Making artichokes usually means bringing a pot of water to a boil, then cooking the artichokes for 45 minutes to an hour.  Not this dish.  Braising artichokes does not require boiling water or cooking for a long period of time.  Braising brings out amazing flavor that puts the artichokes over the top. Butter and mayonnaise, no need! Save those calories and grams of fat but get a punch of flavor.

First, how to prepare an artichoke… (on my blog I have some step-by-step photos and my wonderful friend Tara helped me – thank you!).

Collages

1. Cut about 1/3 off the top of the artichoke.

2. Cut the stem leaving about 1/2 inch or so on the bottom.

3. Peel off the tough outer leaves. Peel the leaf bending it back and the good part at the bottom of the leaf will stay on while the inedible part will come right off.

4. Snip off the tip of the remaining leaves, to remove the thistles.

5. With a pairing knife trim off the outer portions of the stem and the tough/stringy green part left by the leaves you peeled.

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6. Now turn the artichoke on its top and quarter the artichoke.

7. On the heart is a line where the little hairs start to form. Following that line cut toward the leaves and cut out all the hairs along with the bloom in the center. (that inner part will bloom into a thistle flower if left on the bush).

8. Place the quartered artichokes in a bowl of lemon water to help stop the browning while you cut the rest of your artichokes

To prepare an artichoke whole, stop at Step 5 and steam or boil your artichokes.  Also you could use a spoon to dig out the middle bloom and hairs, then stuff the artichoke with a cheese bread crumb mixture, or a mixture of your favorite herbs and butter.

BRAISED ARTICHOKES

4 artichokes (1 per person)

2 scallions, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

salt and pepper

(add-ins: chopped kalamata olives, herbs de Provence, capers, tomatoes, a mixture of your favorite herbs, thyme, basil, oregano.)

Prepare your artichokes, and quarter them.

In a heavy skillet heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the shallots for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté until translucent.

Add the quartered artichokes and sauté for 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to Medium-low and add the wine and water. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the artichokes are soft and a leaf pulls off easily. I like to brown the artichokes up a bit at this point.

I like to serve this with crusty basil-garlic bread or as a side dish to grilled pork chops or chicken.

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January 19, 2011

Apple Goat Cheese Salad

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This is one of my favorites – I use it all the time for a dinner side salad.

1/2 apple
1/2 head of romaine lettuce
cucumber
tomato
1/4 cup goat cheese

Clean, dry then chop lettuce. Slice cucumbers into half-moons. Slice tomatoes into strips and apples into matchsticks. Sprinkle goat cheese. When ready to serve, toss the salad and dressing.

Vinaigrette

(I don’t measure the ingredients so these are estimates)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing emulsifies.

January 16, 2011

Garlic Potato Wedges with Jalapeno Aioli

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This past summer we had family from out of town visiting so we took them to Virginia City (a true Wild West town) we ate at one of the casinos. My hopes weren’t too high for this place, but I walked away pretty impressed with what we had! Garlic Steak fries with jalapeno aioli….can I say Y-U-M! My little brother loves jalapenos so I told he and his girlfriend I’d come up with a jalapeno aioli recipe. It didn’t take me long to find an addicting concoction of jalapeno, lime, and mayonnaise! I used it with my Spicy Lime Marinated Chicken and it rocked that too…

4 russet potatoes
1 c. flour
1T garlic salt
2T onion powder
1T kosher salt
1t pepper
1T butter
1 or 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
grated parmesan
parsley, finely chopped

Toss flour, garlic powder, onion powder, S & P in a paper or plastic bag.

Wash and scrub potatoes. Cut into wedges 8-10 wedges each potato,, depending on how thick you like them.

Place the wedges in the flour mixture, close bag and shake to coat all wedges.  Place wedges on a baking sheet. Spray with canola or olive oil.

In 450 oven, cook the wedges for 25 minutes, turning once through cooking.

While the wedges are cooking melt 1T butter in a sauce pan. finely chop one to two cloves of garlic. Sauté garlic for 1 min, before it turns brown, but just enough to infuse the butter with garlic flavor.

Once wedges are done cooking, drizzle with garlic and butter, sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Top with some chopped fresh parsley.

January 8, 2011

Basil-Garlic Bread

Adapted from Tyler Florence, Stirring the PotIMG_6146-29

This is a good recipe to freeze and use for later, in fact that is how Tyler Florence presents this recipe in the book. Buy a few loaves of bread at a time so you have a few on hand in your freezer. You can save any leftover basil-garlic butter for sandwiches, pasta, or anything else you can think up!

This is my new favorite garlic bread, although my daughter did not like it. I think if I make it enough she’ll eventually cave…

1 stick butter

3 cloves garlic

1 cup bunch fresh basil leaves

1 loaf French or artisan bread

½ cup grated parmesan

¼ teaspoon salt

couple cracks black pepper

In a food processor, add butter, garlic, and basil leaves, process until the basil and garlic cloves are finely chopped and combined.

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Stir in the salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

Cut the loaves of bread into slices – cut almost all the way through, leaving a bit of the bottom intact.

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Spread the butter between the slices of bread and then on the top of the bread. Wrap up in foil and label the bread so you know what it is and mark it with instructions “325°- 30 minutes”

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If you want to make this bread right away, bake it in foil at 450°for 15 minutes.

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December 14, 2010

Classic Bread Stuffing

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While Thanksgiving has come and gone, I still wanted to share this recipe, but I didn’t get the chance until now. This recipe is the one my mom always used, and she either got it from that 1960’s edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook, which is falling apart, or it’s the same recipe my grandma used to make (maybe both).

I am not sure about you, but when Thanksgiving comes around and I think Stuffing, I do not think about all those versions out there with nuts and meats and fruits. I think of plain ol’ classic bread stuffing with onions, carrots, celery and poultry seasonings. Plain and simple, but it is what my family and I like the best. Don’t get me wrong I like the other stuffing out there, but when it comes to Thanksgiving this is the only recipe I use.

1-2 loaves of bread (sourdough or French – I use a mix, the sourdough alone gets too tangy for me)
3T. poultry seasoning
1 large white onion
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1/2 stick of butter
salt and pepper
6 cups of chicken broth

  1. Cube or tear the bread, sprinkle 1T of poultry seasoning over the bread and allow the bread to dry out a day or two – tossing occasionally (so all pieces dry out).
  2. Dice the onion, celery and carrots (mirepoix).
  3. Melt butter in a large pan. Over medium heat, saute the veggies until the carrots are soft and the onion is translucent. Add salt and pepper and 1T poultry seasoning.
  4. Toss the mirepoix with the bread in a large bowl.
  5. Add remaining 1T of poultry seasoning to the broth.  Add 1/2 cup of the broth at a time to the stuffing (stirring between each addition). Continue doing this until the bread is sticky.
  6. Place in a large baking dish and bake 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Notes:

Bread – I use the loaves from the bakery, if the loaves of bread are large I use about 1 1/2 loaves.

Store bought “Poultry Seasoning” is a mixture of sage, thyme, marjoram, black pepper, and nutmeg (I do not know the ratios – McCormick’s doesn’t give that  secret out.

November 1, 2010

Pan Dripping Turkey Gravy

This recipe is a traditional type pan dripping gravy, with a twist. The turkey stock is made with roasted turkey wings to add depth to the stock. This gravy recipe is a collaboration of difference sources. I was watching Tyler Florence on Food Network one year and Tyler made gravy with a roasted turkey wing stock and I have made my stock for gravy with a roasted turkey wing stock ever since. Roasting wings is much easier than making an enitire roasted turkey or chicken. The wings have a lot of flavor so you will not miss out on using the entire bird. The base for my gravy I learned from my mom, which she learned from my grandmother. The milk idea I picked up from a friend one Thanksgiving and the brown gravy mix I have heard numerous people say they add to their gravy for added depth. So this recipe is a melting pot of tips and tricks I have picked up over the years. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8

Turkey Stock:

  • 2 Turkey Wings
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme
  • water
  • salt and pepper

Gravy:

  • pan drippings from roasted turkey
  • butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups turkey stock (see above)
  • 1 packet brown gravy mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Roast wings for 2 ½ hours.
  3. Chop onion, celery, carrots and sauté in butter.
  4. Add thyme bay leaf and wings (with drippings from the roasting pan). Cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim any foam and reduce the heat and simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours until the water reduces.
  5. Strain off the solids and cool the stock if you will freeze it, or use it right away.

Turkey Stock

  1. GRAVY:Once you remove your roasted turkey from the pan, place the whole roasting pan over the med-low heat on the stovetop (my roasting pan takes up two burners so I turn both on med-low heat). Or transfer the pan drippings to a pot.
  2. Once the pan drippings are bubbly add enough butter to make about ½ cup of fat. Whisk in the flour and cook stirring frequently about 2 minutes.
  3. Once the roux is golden brown whisk in the turkey stock, milk and gravy mix packet, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. (I add the milk to help cut the greasiness from the turkey drippings but keep the flavor of the drippings).
  4. Simmer until the gravy has thickened to your likeness, about 10 minutes.
I submitted this recipe for a contest with Food52 which all winners will be added to the Food 52 cookbook that results from the year of contests. As well as the chance to win some money to Williams Sonoma, and other gift packages from Viking cookeware, and OXO. Wish me luck! Hope you try this gravy this holiday season, it’s super good! I will be making my wing stock shortly!
July 11, 2010

Corn and Black Bean Salad

My friend Kim made this for me once I think it was from a Rachael Ray cookbook, but I couldn’t remember what all was it in so I made up my own recipe with as much as I could remember was in it (maybe she’ll correct me if I missed anything!). This salad is so simple and one of my favorite side dishes. Very flavorful and addicting…enjoy!

2T. butter
1t garlic powder
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1- 11 oz package frozen corn
1 – 15oz can of black beans, rinsed
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 lime, juiced
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1t cumin
S & P
Heat sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Sauté onion and jalapeno in butter, until onion is translucent. Bump the heat up to medium –high heat and add frozen corn and cook 4 minutes, until corn is thawed. Add black beans and sauté for 3 minutes.  Stir in chicken broth and garlic powder, reduce heat and allow to simmer until the broth is all absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper.

March 23, 2010

Spinach and Tomato Stracciatella Soup (egg drop soup)

Spinach and Tomato Stracciatella Soup

I began with a recipe from Epicurious.com then altered it. This soup is the italian version of egg drop soup you get in Asian restaurants. Way different flavors than the Asian version. It’s very good…

I added some tomatoes and orecchiette pasta. My daughter requested noodle soup tonight and I wanted to get her to eat this soup so perfect opportunity. She is sick today too so we needed some vitamins to kick our immune systems into gear and this soup is filled with the goods…

2 cups water
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup fresh torn spinach (or 10 oz pkg frozen spinach, not thawed)
1 oz grated parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for serving)
1/2 – 14oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup slightly undercooked orechiette pasta
2 large eggs, beaten
Croutons or garlic toasts

orechiette

Heat the water, broth, salt, and pepper in a sauce pan over moderate heat until hot.  Stir in spinanch, cheese, orechiette, and tomatoes.  Simmer and cover stirring occasionally, until the spinach is tender, about 8 minutes.

Sirring constantly, add beaten eggs in a slow stream.

Divide among bowls (serves 6) and top the soup with remaining cheese, toasts (or croutons) and serve.

My daughter ate the soup and even if she didn’t eat all of the spinach she ate the broth which has the good vitamins in it too! As usual I will make this again – I don’t post anything I wouldn’t make again! Another easy and healthy weeknight dinner. Seems that’s the theme of the week!

February 27, 2010

Stuffed Artichokes

Today I bought small artichokes from Trader Joes so I could make a stuffed artichoke recipe I saw the other day.  After I searched and searched for the recipe I couldn’t find it again, or anything close to it. So I used two artichokes tonight and have two more for tomorrow (and after I get some italian sausage and red peppers from the store tomorrow I will make another version).  Lots of people make their artichokes whole stuffed with a mixture of garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, and little lemon juice. I used this mixture and added pine nuts and pancetta.

Trim the artichokes like you would normally (That is: using scissors trim the prickly points off the leaves and using a peeler, peel the stem. Then remove the small tough leaves at the bottom). Cut the ‘chokes in half and remove the inner-most thin leaves and the “hair.”

Squeeze half a lemon over all artichokes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and olive oil.

Mix 1/4 c. bread crumbs, 1/4c. parmesan, 1 minced clove of garlic, fresh parsley, and small palm of pine nuts (I know not very exact).

Divide the mixture among the artichoke halves. Chop 3 slices of pancetta and place on top of artichokes.

Place artichokes in a shallow baking dish. Pour in 1/2c. white wine and 1/2c. water. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until tender.

Stuffed Artichokes

ENJOY!