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Saturday, June 18, 2022

Roasted Leeks and Cauliflower

 A yummy cauliflower variation.


Roasted Leeks and Cauliflower

Adapted from: The Washington Post
Serves: 4

2 medium leeks, (white parts only), trimmed
1 medium head cauliflower (about 1 pd)
1 teas brown mustard seed
1 teas caraway seed
1/2 teas salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Heat the oven to 425F.

Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and place under running water to rinse thoroughly so all dirt is removed. Cut into quarter inch slices. Spread on a kitchen towel to allow to dry as much as possible while you prepare the cauliflower.

Core the cauliflower and cut into bite-size florets. Spread over a rimmed sheet pan. Add the leeks as well.

Place the mustard and caraway seeds with the salt and a pinch of black pepper in a mortar and pestle. and coarsely crush them. Sprinkle mix over the vegetables and drizzle with the olive oil. Mix well to coat the vegetables. Place in the oven.

Roast until the cauliflower is slightly charred and the leeks have browned about 20 minutes. Halfway through, remove the pan from the oven, turn the vegetables over with a spatula and return to the oven reversing the pan's position.

If desired, season with more salt and pepper and drizzle with more olive oil.


If you don't have leeks, this can be cooked with diced onions (large) but it isn't quite as good nor is there any contrasting color. If onion is what you have, top with chopped chives when you serve it.

If you have a larger head of cauliflower, increase the amounts of oil, seeds, and seasonings.

If you can't bring yourself to heat your oven in the summer, you can use these seasonings on cauliflower that has been pan fried, steamed, or boiled. The texture of the vegetable changes, but the seasonings work well whichever way you cook it. 

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Spiced Black Lentil Salad with Potatoes and Fish

Main dish salads are wonderful any time but, for me, summer is the best time to eat them.


Spiced Black Lentil Salad with Potatoes and Fish

Source: Alison Roman's book Dining In.
Serves about 6

The original recipe calls for good canned tuna which is how I usually make it. Once, though, I had some smoked trout in the freezer and used that. This salad is delicious either way. If you don't have all the ingredients you can leave some out or substitute with what you have in the fridge. I used red bell pepper instead of radishes.

 Begin with the lentils (these can be used as a side dish or in other recipes):

1 c black beluga lentils (or Le Puy or French green lentils), picked over and rinsed
1/2 c olive oil
2 teas coriander seed, crushed
1 1/2 teas fennel seed, crushed
1 teas cumin seed, crushed
1/2 teas crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lemon
6 small scallions, cut into 2" pieces
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to boil in a large saucepan and add lentils and a couple teaspoons of salt. Cook until the lentils are just cooked through 20-30 minutes. Drain them and set aside on the counter.

In a smaller pot, combine the oil with the spices and the garlic over your stove's lowest heat. Cook the spices and garlic in the oil until it is fragrant and the garlic has started to brown, approximately 15 minutes. Peel the lemon skin with a peeler in strips and add them to the pot along with the scallions and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Remove it from the heat.

Place the lentils into a bowl and toss with 1/4 c of the oil, strained if you think you won't like the texture of the seeds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Take the skinned lemon and squeeze half of it through a strainer into the lentils and stir to combine everything. Serve with the remaining oil to pass. Or use these lentils in the following recipe:

For the salad:

2 boiled and peeled eggs (or more if you prefer), halved
1/4 pd fresh green beans (I used home-frozen)
1/4 pd small potatoes (purple are particularly pretty, but any boiling potato will do)
1 T lemon juice
freshly ground pepper
lentils and oil from above recipe
6-8 oz good oil-packed tuna or smoked trout, broken into chunks 
4 radishes
1/2 c dill, cilantro, tarragon, and/or parsley, tender stems and leaves (any combination)
lemon halves

Blanch the green beans for a few minutes in a pot of boiling water, cooking for 4 minutes. Scoop out of the water and drain and place in a large bowl.

In the same water cook the potatoes until tender, 10-15 minutes add water if necessary. You can also steam the potatoes if you prefer. When they are tender, remove from the water, allow to cool and cut into bite size pieces (again your preference) and place in the bowl with the beans.

Add the lentils to the bowl. Add the herb leaves and stir. Top with the fish, radishes and egg halves. Serve, passing lemon halves and any remaining spiced oil.

Monday, May 16, 2022

High Altitude Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

My local grocery store has had a long run of cheap flats of berries this spring (see Recently I bought raspberries, thinking my boys would help me eat them, but instead I had to come up with ways to use them because I couldn't eat a whole flat by myself before mold began growing. This recipe was so delicious that they disappeared within a day and I had to make a second batch. A double batch of the chocolate raspberry oatmeal here was devoured within days as well! 

This recipe comes from Dough Eyed, a baker in Colorado, and will work at elevations for 4,000-6,000 feet. I can't vouch for what will happen at sea level. 


High Altitude Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Yields 12 or a few more muffins, depending on how full you fill the tins

2 c flour
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c unsalted butter, melted
2 T vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/4 c sour cream
1 1/2 teas vanilla
1/2 c buttermilk
1 c mini chocolate chips
1 pint fresh raspberries, washed and dried gently

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk together the melted butter, oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and fold together gently, until there are a couple of flour pockets remaining. Stir in the chocolate chips and raspberries until just barely combined. Cover, then let the batter rest for 20 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375F and prepare the muffin tin by lining with paper liners. (I didn't, and wish I had. the berries stuck to the pan, even though it was greased generously.) After resting, fill the tin generously with muffin batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. If you can stand it, let the muffins cool a bit, then enjoy! 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Chocolate Chip Coffee Scones

I discovered this recipe in a Cuisinart food processor manual which is ironic since cook's aren't instructed to use a food processor at all. Instead bakers are told to cut the butter in small pieces and use a stand mixer to mix it into the flour. When Betsy and I first baked these while at an Airbnb in Tennessee we had neither a food processor or a mixer so grating the cold butter was our only option. I find I prefer this method of incorporating butter into the flour so I'm modifying the instructions. 


Chocolate Chip Coffee Scones

Adapted from Cuisinart Instructional Manual
Yields 8 scones

Ingredients for sea level follow. I found the recipe worked at my altitude (5000 feet). 

2 c AP flour
1/2 c sugar
1 teas baking powder
1/4 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
2 T  fine finely ground coffee, optional
1/2-1 c chocolate chips (I used dark chips, but you can use semi-sweet or milk)
1 c roasted chopped pecans 
8 T unsalted butter, cold (frozen or straight from the fridge) grated on a cheese grater
1/2 c sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1 large egg
1 T vanilla extract
1 egg white 

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, coffee grounds, chocolate chips and pecans in a bowl. 

Stir in the grated butter and lightly mix it into the dry ingredients.

In a liquid measuring cup mix the sour cream, 1 egg and vanilla together. Stir this into the flour mixture with a fork, stirring until a ball forms.

Drop the dough onto a floured counter and form into a 3/4 inch thick 7-8 inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges and place on prepared baking sheet.

Whisk the egg white until loosened and brush some on the top of each scone. Then sprinkle with sugar or turbinado sugar. 

Place into the oven and bake 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Place on a rack and allow to cool. You can eat them after a 5 minute cool-down or allow to completely cool and drizzle ganache over the tops. You may simply melt chocolate chips for a thick smear of chocolate but if you want something thinner, heat 2-3 tablespoons of half and half cream in a microwave and stir in an equal amount of chocolate chips. Allow them to sit in the hot cream until they melt. Drizzle over the top of each scone.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Beet and Carrot Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

 A truly beautiful salad. 


Beet and Carrot Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Serves: 6-8

This salad stores well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. However, I added the herbs, pistachios, and feta just before serving. 

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 T white wine vinegar
1 T maple syrup
1 teas table salt (or to taste)
1/2 teas freshly ground pepper
1 teas grated orange zest plus 2 T juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teas ground coriander
8 oz raw beets, trimmed and peeled
1 pd carrots, peeled
4 oz  (1 c) goat cheese, crumbled or feta, divided
1/2 c salted, shelled pistachios, chopped, divided (I used roasted, unsalted pistachios)
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 c fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Place the olive oil, shallot, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, pepper, orange zest and orange juice, garlic, and ground coriander in a small jar and shake vigorously to emulsify. Set aside and shake again before adding to salad.

Shred the beets and carrots. This is easiest if you use a food processor but can be accomplished with a box grater. Place beets and carrots in a bowl and mix until combined. Pour over the amount of dressing you prefer. The original recipe uses the entire amount. I used about 3/4 of what I had and saved the rest for a green salad later. Mix well and allow to sit for 30 minutes. 

Top with the cheese, pistachios, cilantro, and mint, either over the entire salad over individual servings, especially if you are planning to refrigerate leftovers. 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

What is it about ricotta that makes everything taste magical? I generally don't like pancakes but these are light, bright, and tender. Also, it's spring and my grocery store has had cheap flats of strawberries. I pureed some and added a bit of sugar for a thick fruit syrup, which was a perfect complement to the lemon. I think these will be my Easter breakfast tomorrow. 


Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Source: New York Times Cooking

The amounts are doubled from the original, because I'm cooking for a crowd every day.

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3 teas baking powder
1 1/2 teas fine salt
1/2 c sugar
2 lemons
3 teas vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 1/2 c ricotta (whole-milk is preferable)
1/2 c buttermilk
2 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking and serving

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Place the sugar in a large bowl. Use a microplane to grate the lemon zest right into the sugar. Gently rub the zest and sugar together using your fingers. Using your fingers, gently rub the zest into the sugar. Then add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and whisk until foamy. Add the ricotta, buttermilk, and butter, then whisk until blended. Mix in the dry ingredients and stir lightly until the flour is incorporated. 

Melt some butter in a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Cook pancake batter until the tops are bubbling, then flip to finish the other side. I had some trouble with the pancakes being undercooked in the middle, but I used more batter than the recommended 1/4 c so make sure you cook bigger pancakes longer. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Cast-Iron Skillet Brownies

Made with melted whole marshmallows and baked in a skillet, these brownies have a chewy edge and a fudgy point. When baked in a muffin tin, there's lots of chewiness for those on a chewy brownie quest.


Cast-Iron Skillet Brownies

Yield depends on how wide you cut the wedges. I cut 14. Baking in muffin tins yielded 21.

Adjustments for altitudes of 4,000-6,000 ft:

Subtract 2 1/2 T sugar
Add 2 T flour

2 oz. marshamllows (about 8 large marshmallows)
1/2 c plus 2 T warm tap water
4 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 c Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 3/4 c AP flour
1 teas table salt
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (You may substitute bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips but they won't melt as much inside the brownie.)

Place your oven rack in the lowest position and preheat the oven to 350F. Use butter or baking spray to grease a 12-inch cast-iron skillet.

In a large bowl, combine marshmallows, warm tap water, butter, unsweetened chocolate, and cocoa. Place in the microwave and  run at 50 percent power until chocolate is smooth and fully melted. Stop microwave and stir occasionally. Let sit on counter and cool for 5 minutes.

Mix in sugar, oil, eggs and yolks, and vanilla with a whisk until completely combined. Gently stir in the flour and salt until just incorporated. Stir in the bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips.

Use a rubber spatula to place the batter into the prepared skillet. Smooth the top and place into the oven and bake for 33-38 minutes until a toothpick test into the center of the brownie comes out with just a few moist crumbs and a little batter. Try not to overbake since the skillet will be so hot after removal that the brownie will continue to cook. Rotate the skillet approximately halfway through baking. Place the skillet on a wire rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. You may want to place a kitchen towel or a hot pad over the handle so someone doesn't accidently grab it while the skillet is still hot.

Let cool for 30 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream while the brownies are still warm. Or allow to cool completely for more precise wedges. These brownies are very tasty on their own.

If you prefer round brownies (and I do) grease the cups of two muffin tins and fill the cups about 2/3c full. These will cook faster, so start checking at about 25 minutes and remove when the toothpick test shows just a few crumbs. 

I found the brownies seemed to soften up during storage. Freezing and using them as needed helps with this, if you see it as a problem.