Archive for ‘Veggies’

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!).

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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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May 16, 2011

Ratatouille Pizza

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We (my daughter and I) call this pizza the sunshine pizza. It’s so bright and happy and with the roasted marinated peppers as rays of a sun.  This recipe for pizza dough, though, is the bomb. Definitely the best I found. This weekend I got a great opportunity to help out with a catering event. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much in such a short amount of time.  Thanks Anne, it was awesome! (visit her site@ http://annewilesgourmet.com/). There was so much great food! In particular, Anne had set up a grilled pizza station for guests to top their own pizzas. We finished them off on the grill. Such a yummy, fun idea!

So now my inspiration kicked in for this fantastic ratatouille pizza.  I originally saw this idea on www.morethanamouthfull.com. I must say I am not a big fan of eggplant, as much as I want to be, it’s just on the “ok” list for me. But on this pizza it is pretty fantastic mixed with the squash, red onion, peppers and fresh mozz and basil! Perfecto!

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Dough (by Marcy Goldman)

1 1/2 cup warm water

2 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast

2 tsp sugar (or honey or agave)

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

2-3 cups bread flour

Olive oil for brushing the pans and dough.

In a stand mixer. Mix the water and yeast and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the sugar, salt, oil, cornmeal, all-purpose flour and 2 cups of bread flour and mix to make a soft mass.  Knead with the dough hook on the slowest speed of the mixer, dusting in additional flour as required to form a soft, elastic dough, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until almost doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Gently deflate the dough, cover and allow to rest an additional 15 minutes.

Gently deflate the dough.  Press or roll out dough to fit prepared pizza pans.

If dough resists or otherwise retracts, let it rest for a few minutes, then gently coax it to fit pan.  Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top of dough.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

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Thinly slice a yellow squash, Japanese eggplant (it’s closer in size to the yellow squash) and red onion. Slice roasted peppers into thin strips and dice some sun dried tomatoes (you can use fresh thin sliced tomato and layer it with the eggplant and squash.

Brush the crust with olive oil and sprinkle some fresh oregano, or brush with a garlicky cream sauce.  Leaving about an inch from the edge of the crust alternate the eggplant and squash (tomato too if you are using fresh) once around. This is where my daughter got excited saying “hey, it’s a pattern!” Next layer some onion slices. Now alternate another layer of eggplant and squash until the pizza is completely covered. Lay the slices of peppers, we liked the sun pattern, you can do whatever way you’d like. Sprinkle a mixture of your favorite cheeses or mix and top with fresh mozzarella, basil and salt and pepper.

Bake 15 minutes, and then reduce heat to 400 F.  Bake another 15 – 20 minutes until cheese is melted and lightly brown.

Or cook your pizza on the grill – 450-500 degrees and cook the pizza on both sides just a little. Dress your pizza with toppings and then finish it off on the grill until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden.

May 2, 2011

Swiss Chard and Oyster Mushroom Pasta

This post is in celebration of my first Great Basin CSA Basket (CSA – Community Supported Agriculture). Great Basin Basket CSA is a partnership of local farmers who provide seasonal produce grown locally to their CSA members (like me!). It’s the freshest produce and it tastes so much better than anything you can buy in the store. If you have not tasted fresh produce that was picked when it was ripe, rather than before it was ripe so it can travel hundreds of miles, then you should try out the Farmer’s Market this year, that begins June 11th. I’m so excited for my first experience with a CSA and I am super excited the Farmer’s Market begins soon!

The following items came in my CSA basket: Swiss chard, asparagus, and oyster mushrooms (the rest came from Trader Joes, the next best).

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1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch swiss chard, cut into thin stripes
5 oyster mushrooms, sliced
1-2 shallots, diced
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
12 mini heirloom tomatoes
4-5 asparagus spears
2 Tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1 pinch salt and black pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup whole wheat spaghetti

Cook pasta according to the directions.

Meanwhile mince the garlic, dice the shallots, slice the mushrooms and chard, dice the asparagus, quarter the tomatoes and measure out the balsamic vinegar and blue cheese.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic and crushed red pepper in the oil until just fragrant, 1 minute or so. Add the Swiss chard to the garlic and stir until wilted, 3-5 minutes. Transfer the garlic and chard to a bowl. heat a little more olive oil and add the mushrooms, shallots, and asparagus. Saute until cooked through, 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat, add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and noodles and stir. Gently toss the blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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April 21, 2011

Strawberry-Avocado Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

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This recipe came from Cooking Light May 2011 Issue. I don’t know about you but I think Cooking Light always has the prettiest food! Full of color  and rustic backgrounds. I am really starting to like that magazine. Especially after this recipe. (Since I’m not as “healthy” as Cooking Light I added a little more oil (originally 2 teaspoons) and bumped the cinnamon sugar mixture (originally 2 teaspoons of sugar – I don’t know how you are supposed to cover 6 tortillas with that!) At the same time, I did not go overboard and lightly sugared and oiled the tortillas.

1 Tablespoon Canola oil
6 whole wheat tortillas
Cinnamon and sugar (I always keep this mixture on hand for cinnamon toast or cookies so if you don’t use it all you can save it for something else!)
2 ripe finely chopped and peeled avocados
1 cup finely diced strawberries (all the same size)
2 Tablespoons minced cilantro
1 teaspoon finely diced, seeded jalapenos
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3/8 teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • To prepare chips, brush oil evenly over one side of each tortilla. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle a little evenly over the oil-coated sides of the tortillas.
  • Cut each tortilla into 12 wedges (I used a fluted pastry cutter to make the chips more fancy); arrange wedges in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until crisp.
  • Combine avocado and remaining ingredients; stir gently to combine.

Serve with chips. Enjoy~

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.

October 3, 2010

Vodka Sauce

My weekend “relaxing at home” usually consists of turning on Food Network or the Cooking Channel and writing up my weekly menu plan and playing in my kitchen cooking up some recipe on my mind.

This particular weekend I was watching the Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten (who by the way has provided so much inspiration to me, as a woman who started out working at the White House on the nuclear energy policy, decided one day she was going to quit her job and do something so completely opposite and open a specialty food store – and she became crazy successful!). This episode Ina had a guest chef who was sharing a recipe from his restaurant.  Apparently the recipe was one which the owners of the restaurant was able to learn from a chef on a trip to Italy. So this is an authentic dish from Italy!   

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

    In and oven safe pot (I used my brand new Le Cruset cast iron dutch oven) Over medium heat saute the onion in the olive oil until it becomes translucent, add the garlic and sautee until the onion becomes a little carmelized. (Don’t burn the onion or garlic otherwise you will get a very bitter flavor in your sauce).

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    Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute.  Then add the vodka and allow it to reduce a little.  Now you want to add the tomatoes, crush each whole tomato in your hand before you add it to the pan, then add the liquid and stir. Add salt and pepper. I would add at least 1/2 tablespoon of salt, the tomatoes are not very salty.

    Cover the pot and place in the oven for for 1 1/2 hours.

    Remove the sauce from the oven and cool.  At this point you can place the sauce in a jar and put it in the fridge and finish for another day. Or cool it enough to place the sauce in a blender and puree.

    Next put the sauce back in the pan and add resh oregano, heavy cream and some more salt and pepper. Cook aout 10 minutes.

    Serve over pasta with grated parmesan cheese. (pictured here with my Meatballs)

    September 9, 2010

    Guacamole and Mediterranean Salsa

    My first “official” gig in which I wasn’t making food for an event I was planning myself. I was asked to make a few dips for a party of about 40 people.

    I was a little scared at first, not knowing how much food to estimate or how much time I would need to make that amount of food. How to keep the guacamole from turning color. Things that I did not ever put too much worry into. I guess when you are making food for someone else’s event it is just more stressful. Probably questions everyone asks when they first start making large quantities of food for OTHER people! It was not as bad as I anticipated! Whew!

    It was a fun and exciting new challenge and hope I get the opportunity to do this more often! I love to feed people’s bellies so this was a privilege for me!

    Here is what I made:

    Guacamole – this recipe is on my site already, but I’ve updated it with a photo

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    Next was Mediterranean Salsa which in a previous blog I promised quite some time ago…sorry for the delay! This recipe doesn’t make enough for 40 it makes enough for probably a crowd of 15 or so.

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    Mediterranean Salsa

    1 lb. tomatoes, seeded and diced

    1 English (seedless) cucumber, diced

    1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped

    2 sprigs of mint, finely chopped

    3 green onions, thinly sliced in rounds

    juice of  1/2 lemon

    1 clove of garlic

    3T olive oil

    1/8 tsp salt

    1/4 c. feta cheese

    Toss the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.

    In a separate bowl, mix lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil and salt. Pour over tomato and cucumber mixture and toss.

    Serve with Pita chips or toasted Lavash Chips.

    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.

    June 16, 2010

    Fairy Flower Salad

    If you have kids, you know the novelty of the food they eat is probably more important to kids than what they are eating! Thanks to a co-worker (thanks Tarah) I came up with this salad for my daughter and neice…I’m sure eating flowers would be fun for boys too, for those of you with boys let me know if you come up with a name to appeal to the boys.

    Most of these ingredients I got at the Farmer’s Market. Including the edible flowers. The strawberries and cucumbers were from the Market as well. I could have purchased greens from the Market, but I was too late and it was all sold out. So the lettuce is organic mixed baby greens from TJs and goat cheese was from TJs too.

    Fairy Flower Salad

    You could grow your own edible flowers and as long as you are careful not to get chemicals on them.

    To make enough for 4 people:
    1/2 bag of mixed baby greens (or 3 cups or so of your favorite lettuce)
    1/2 cup of edible flowers (I got mine at the Farmer’s Market last weekend)
    1/2 cup of diced cucumber
    5 or 6 strawberries thinly sliced
    1/4 cup feta cheese
    Strawberry Vinaigrette

    Cut large pieces of lettuce in bite-sized pieces. Wash lettuce and flowers individually and then lay on a paper towel to dry off. Dice cucumbers and slice the strawberries. Place lettuce in a bowl toss with the vinaigrette dressing. Top with flowers and spread the cucumbers and strawberries over the salad. Top with feta cheese (or goat cheese is a good contrast to the sweet dressing).

    Isn’t it the prettiest salad ever! What girl wouldn’t eat that!!!

    Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
    5 strawberries, cleaned and hulled
    1/4c olive oil (Grapeseed oil is nice and clean tasting and would work really well)
    1T Honey
    1/4c balsamic vinegar
    salt and pepper

    Place the strawberries in a blender and coarsely chop. Add honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pulse the blender until mixed. Then with the blender running add the oil until the dressing is emulsified. Toss the dressing with the greens then top with the rest of your ingredients. (This dressing was really good with a salad with apples and goat cheese too!)