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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad

Grab a pomegranate while you can. They are versatile, tasting great in everything from salads, soups, main dishes, to desserts. Here's a quick salad that can be a side or a light main dish.





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Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad


Serves 4-6

for the dressing (you can make this ahead by a couple of days and keep in the fridge):

2-3 T pomegranate molasses, increasingly easy to find in supermarkets, Middle Eastern markets, and online
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on clove size and your preference)
3 T fresh lemon juice
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Mix together in a small glass jar and cover tightly with the lid. Shake vigorously until emulsified. 

for the salad:

1 c plain, instant couscous
1 c boiling water
salt to taste and generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper
1 14-oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 c pomegranate seeds (arils from a whole fruit are preferred)
1/2 c chopped fresh mint
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

In a large bowl, mix the couscous, boiling water, and 1/4 teas salt and at least that much pepper. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Remove the cover and fluff the couscous with a fork or a chopstick.

Just before serving, place the chickpeas and pomegranate arils in the bowl and stir. Stir the salad dressing in, tossing until mixed. Taste for seasoning and stir in more salt and pepper if needed. 

Top the salad with the herbs just before serving. 

Note:

If you can't find pomegranate molasses you can make your own by reducing pomegranate juice over heat until it is syrupy. Let it cool before making the dressing. If this seems too nerdy, just sub an extra tablespoon of lemon juice for the molasses.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb with Greens and Garlicky Yogurt

My Thanksgiving was abbreviated; even so, later this weekend I felt the need for a meal that seemed healthier. Beans and greens seemed just the thing.


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Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb with Greens and Garlicky Yogurt


Serves 4

 for the Garlicky Yogurt

1 c full fat or 2 % Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

for the Chickpeas and Lamb 

1-2 bunches Swiss chard, mustard greens, or kale
6 T olive oil, divided
12 oz (3/4 pd) ground lamb
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teas cumin seed
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teas crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
fresh tomatoes, quartered or roasted tomatoes for a garnish

Make the yogurt (it can be made ahead up to 5 days and kept in the fridge--the garlic will get stronger). 

Rinse the greens and separate the stems from the greens. Slice the stems (except for kale) and tear the leaves into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat place 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the lamb, garlic, cumin, and some salt and pepper (you can test it later and add more if needed). Cook, browning the lamb and breaking it as it cooks until it is crispy and browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb into a bowl. Leave the drippings in the skillet.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and heat for a few minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Shaking the skillet from time to time, cook until the chickpeas are very well browned and starting to get crisp. Return the lamb to the skillet and stir well. Then place this mixture in a large bowl. Leave a little oil in the skillet.

Stir the sliced stems into the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook a couple of minutes (they should be a bit crunchy in the final dish)  and add the leaves and stir until coated with the oil. Cook just until wilted. 

Place the yogurt into the bottom of four bowls and top with the chickpea and lamb mixture and the greens. Top all with some of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired and eat immediately.

Note:

I'm sure another bean could be substituted for the chickpeas.


Monday, November 25, 2019

Clementine Cake

If you like seasonal foods, here's a wintry dessert that can brighten your day with its sunny appearance. Don't be put off by the length of the recipe. The cake is as easy as zucchini bread but I've posted several options for topping it.


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Clementine Cake


Adapted from Cook's Country Magazine
Serves 8-10


Cook's Country instructs cooks to make candied slices of clementines for garnish. They look very pretty on the cake but I found them awkward to eat. I prefer making a glaze with some clementine zest. I'll give instructions for both.




For the cake:

Altitude (3500-5500 ft) adjustments:

add 1 T flour
reduce baking powder to 1 teas
reduce sugar by 1 1/2 T

Note about almonds and blanched almond flour:

I checked with Cook's Country magazine about using almond flour rather than making your own by processing whole blanched almonds; they prefer whole almonds because toasting the almonds adds extra flavor to the cake. However, you can, and should, toast almond flour, if you use it. It's not hard; just don't leave it unattended for any length of time. Place the almond flour in a 12-skillet over medium heat and cook for 5-7 minutes stirring frequently until the almond flour has darkened in color and smells fragrant. Let it cool for 20 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Also, make sure you weigh the almond flour since measuring it by cup will be different than measuring whole almonds. I also read on Washington Post that you can toast nut flours for 25-30 minutes in the oven at 250F. I'd advise stirring once or twice and checking as the end of the roasting time approaches.

9 ounces clementines (about five 2-inch diameter) unpeeled, stemmed
2 1/4 c sliced blanched almonds, toasted (or 7 1/2 ounces blanched almond flour, toasted)
1 c AP flour
1 1/4 teas baking powder
1/4 teas salt
10 T unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces and softened
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
5 eggs

Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 325F. Prepare a 9" springform pan by spraying with cooking spray. Then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray or butter the paper and sides of the pan.

Place the clementines into a microwave safe bowl and cover with a lid. Cook on high in microwave until clementines are softened and some juice has been released (about 3 minutes). Throw the juice away and allow the clementines to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Place the almonds, AP flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and run until the almonds are finely ground, about 30 seconds. Move to another bowl. (If you use almond flour, when it has cooled add the AP flour, baking powder, and salt directly to the almond flour in the skillet; no need to move it to bowl.)

Place the cooled whole clementines to the processor container and process until smooth as you can get them, about a minute; scrape the sides down if necessary.

With a stand mixer and paddles, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy for about 3 minutes. (If  you don't have a stand mixer, use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar. Or if you've got a Bosch, use the cookie paddles on medium speed.) One at a time, add the eggs and scrape the sides of the bowl down if needed. Beat in the clementine puree until incorporated.

Turn your mixer to low and add the almond/flour mixture in 3 additions until just combined. If needed, scrape the sides of the bowl. Remove paddles (or beaters) from the bowl and use a rubber spatula to stir the batter a final time or two. Move the batter from the bowl into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Place the pan in the oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Place the finished cake on a rack and allow to completely cool (about 2 hours).

Run a plastic knife around the edge of the pan and remove the cake. Drizzle with glaze and see directions below for optional candied clementines.

For a thin glaze:

1 c confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 -1 teas clementine zest (optional if you are using candied clementine slices)
2 T clementine juice (or water) or more if needed

Mix  ingredients together. If it is very thick add water or juice, teaspoon by teaspoon until thin enough for drizzling. Use a rubber spatula to drizzle over the top of cooled cake. Let glazed cake sit on counter for an hour or so while glaze sets.

For a thicker glaze:

2 c confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 T clementine juice or water, plus extra if needed
pinch of salt
1/2 -1 teas clementine zest (optional if you are using candied clementine slices)

In a bowl, stir sugar, water, and salt together and whisk until smooth. If it is very thick, add water half a teaspoon at a time until the glaze is the consistency of thick craft glue.

Place the cake on a serving platter and pour the glaze over the top. Smooth with an off-set or rubber spatula and let some of the glaze run down the sides of the cake. Let it sit out for at least an hour so the glaze will set.



For candied clementines:


4 clementines, unpeeled, stemmed
1 c water
1 c granulated sugar
1/8 teas salt

Slice the clementines about 1/4 inch thick. Bring to a slow boil  the water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and keep heat at medium. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved.  Place all the slices, excepting the rounded ends, in the mixture and cook the fruit. Use paper towels to make a triple-thick lining on a baking sheet. When the clementines have cooked until softened (6 minutes or so), place the clementines on the prepared sheet. Cool for 30 minutes or more turning them over once.

Just before you plan to serve, choose eight of the candied clementine slices. If there is any excess moisture, blot it away with a paper towel. Place the clementines around the edges of the cake evenly so there will be one candied clementine for each of 8 slices of cake. Serve.

This cake can be kept in airtight wrapping or a container for up to two-three days.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Baked Eggs with Beans and Greens

In a rare cooking success on a busy day this week, I realized ahead of time that I had some wilty, month-old, garden chard in my fridge that would work in this recipe. And some already cooked italian sausage in the freezer from I-don't-remember-when. And some fresh, leggy basil still reaching for the light inside my back door (most of which is a window).

I feel like that basil this time of year: every part of me reaching for the warmth and light, wan though it might be, basking in it before the true cold months set in.



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Baked Eggs with Beans and Greens


Source: New York Times Cooking
Serves 4-6

2 T olive oil
1/2 lb sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (optional, or pre-cooked as in my case)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 15-oz can chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt
2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes
4 c stemmed and packed roughly chopped greens such as spinach, kale, or Swiss chard
6 large eggs
black pepper
2 T mixed herbs, such as Italian parsley and basil, for garnish
1-2 T grated cheese, such as pecorino or Parmesan, for serving (optional, but very yummy)

Heat the oven to 375. Place olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet and warm over medium heat. If using the sausage, add it to the skillet and cook, breaking it up into bitesize pieces as you stir. Remove the sausage, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible, and set aside.

Cook the onion in the skillet until softened. Then add the beans and garlic, and stir, until the garlic is fragrant, just a minute or so. Sprinkle pan with salt. Add the tomatoes and sausage, then stir to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer, then gradually add the chopped greens, a handful at a time. Stir the greens in until wilted before adding another handful. Season with salt again.

Use a spoon to create a small divet in the sauce, then crack an egg into it. Repeat six times, then sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until the eggs are set to your desired firmness. (My kids don't like any gooeyness, so I left mine in for 20-25 minutes.) Scatter the herbs and cheese over the top, and let cool a minute or two before digging in.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Chocolate Berry Shortcakes

Where have you been all of my life, chocolate shortcakes? This was one of the recipes Mom brought to my house in September, when she came for our annual canning extravaganza. She brought raspberries with her, too, and we both had enjoyed a fall berry harvest of sorts. Her berries really produced before cold arrived, while every few days until the frost I found a delightful spot of red in my strawberry patch.



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Chocolate Berry Shortcakes

Source: Food52.com
Serves 8

Shortcakes:

Altitude adjustment for 3500-5500 feet:

subtract 1/4 teas baking powder
subtract 1/4 teas baking soda

2 egg yolks
1 c heavy cream
1 3/4 c AP flour
1/2 c plus 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 teas baking powder
3/4 teas baking soda
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/2 teas kosher salt
6 T unsalted butter, cold
2 oz  bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or chocolate chips
3 T raw, sanding, or granulated sugar 

Berry topping:

1 1/2 pds raspberries or strawberries, trimmed if necessary and cut into small pieces or slightly smashed
3 T granulated sugar, or to taste
1 pinch kosher salt


Whipped cream topping:

1 c heavy cream
1 teas granulated sugar
1/2 teas vanilla extract

Preheat oven  to 400F. Place parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a large baking sheet.

Measure the cream in a liquid measuring cup. Drop the egg yolks in and stir with a small whisk until well mixed.

In a large bowl, place flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt and whisk until completely combined. Use the large holes on a grater to shred cold butter into the mixture and stir together with a fork until the butter is incorporated throughout. Stir in the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Add the cream/egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula and eventually using your hands to mix into a cohesive dough. It will be thick.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll each lump into a rough ball. Dip them into sugar (plain granulated sugar contrasts nicely with the chocolate biscuits) and place, sugar side up, on the lined baking sheet in 3 lines of 2 shortcakes each, staggering the rows.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until set, rotating the pan once during baking time. Remove from oven and allow to rest on a cooling rack.

About 30 minutes before serving, mash about a third of the berries and add the remaining berries. If using strawberries, quarter or cut into pieces. Stir in the sugar and salt. Set aside to macerate for 25 minutes until very juicy.

Using a cold bowl, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together until the mixture holds a peak.

Cut the shortcakes in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Place the bottom halves on plates and top with macerated fruit. Top the fruit with a big dollop of whipped cream and place the top half of the shortcake on top. Enjoy!

Note:

Shortcakes can be frozen and defrosted in the fridge. If desired, you can warm them in an oven at low temperature for a few minutes.



Friday, September 27, 2019

Curried Chicken Breast with Zucchini

It is with a strange sense of both wistfulness and relief that I anticipate the waning of the garden every fall. I love harvest season, but it brings with a constant pressure to eat and preserve every little bit of produce while I still have it. So the relief is a lessening of that pressure, but it comes at a cost, of boring winter food. 

We're facing a probable freeze next week, with a number of baby zucchinis still on my plants. Two of them went into this fairly easy, low carb dinner. I usually add a starch (pasta, bread, or rice), and sometimes another veggie for my picky eaters who don't like zucchini unless it's in a sweet bread. 





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Curried Chicken Breast with Zucchini


Modified slightly from https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/3209-curried-chicken-breast-with-zucchini

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lbs)
~4 T olive oil, divided
salt
pepper
2 small zucchini, about 1 lb
2 teas curry powder
1 T unsalted butter
2 T fine chopped shallots
1/2 c chicken broth
2 T heavy cream

Turn the chicken breasts on their sides and cut in thin pieces of meat that will cook faster. Then add the chicken to a large bowl and coat with ~1 T oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper.

Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the zucchini and curry powder to the bowl with the chicken and stir with your hands to coat everything evenly.

Heat oven to 200F and prepare a dish to hold the zucchini and chicken that finishes early.

Heat ~1 T oil over medium high heat in each of two large, heavy skillets: I use a cast iron and an all clad, because that's what I have. Add the chicken in one layer to both skillets, then place the zucchini in between the chicken.

The original recipe said to brown one side for 3 minutes and then turn the heat down to moderately low and cook the other side for 5 minutes. The timing on this seems way off. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to cook the chicken to 165F after I turn the heat down for the second side. Turn the zucchini occasionally until browned and softened to taste. Move the chicken and zucchini to the warm oven as it finishes.

Then, use one skillet to make the pan sauce. Pour off the fat, and add the butter. Add the shallots. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring to get the flavorful dark bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the broth; reduce to about 1/3 c and then stir in the cream. Bring to a boil, then add the chicken and zucchini pieces back to the skillet and turn them to coat. I wanted more sauce last time, so I might increase the amounts for the pan sauce next time.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Blender Ice Cream

I have a beautiful mint plant on my back steps, that I keep watering every summer because I plan on using it to flavor mint ice cream. The last couple of summers, however, that idea has seemed out of reach. Infusing the cream with mint and pulling out the ice cream machine has been too much. But I am back in the ice cream game now, with this new recipe for making ice cream in a blender!

This was the perfect first-day-of-school treat! So easy. Whip the cream in the blender for 30 seconds, then dump everything else in and process for a few seconds more. Freeze for 6 hours or more, and voila! Soft, scoop-able, tasty ice cream.

Both recipes I tried were plenty sweet for me. I'm going to remove the granulated sugar next time--but here is the original, since I know not everyone objects to sweet.


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Blender Ice Cream Base, with Three Variations


Source: Cook's Country
Yield: about a quart

2 c heavy cream, chilled
1 c sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 c whole milk
1/4 light corn syrup
2 T sugar
1/4 teas table salt

Vanilla variation

1 T vanilla extract

Mint Cookie variation

3/4 teas peppermint extract
4 Oreo cookies, or something similar, crushed coarse (1/2 c)

Peanut Butter Cup variation

1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/2 c coarsely chopped peanut butter cups
(This peanut butter ice cream is really good topped with spanish peanuts.)

The original recipe says to process cream in a blender for 20-30 seconds until soft peaks form, then scrape down the sides and process another 10 seconds until stiff peaks form. I have a ninja blender and it was hard to tell the exact peak stage, so I went with the time recommendations instead.

After the cream is whipped, add all other ingredients except the big stir-ins like cookies or candy chunks. Process for another 20 seconds or so until fully combined, then pour into a loaf pan. Gently stir in cookie or candy, if applicable. Then cover the ice cream with plastic wrap, pressing it down so it's resting right on the cream mixture. Freeze for at least 6 hours, then enjoy!