Spike's & Jamie's Recipe Collection & a Whole Lot More!

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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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How to use these pages:  Below is a list of the recipes on this page.  You can either scroll down the page and look at all of the recipes, or look at the titles.  When you find one that seems interesting, use your web browsers FIND function to take you directly to that recipe (on my IE browser it's Edit/Find (on this page)   or Ctrl - F on your keyboard).

A TASTE OF SPRING

ARIZONA ICED TEA

ASIAN FAJITAS

ASPARAGUS WITH BALSAMIC DRIZZLE

BANANA BREAD

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

BANANA CREAM CAKE

BANANA DESSERT DRINK

BOUILLABAISSE

CHICKEN AND BLACK BEAN SOUP

CHICKEN POSOLE

CHILI FRIED SHRIMP WITH SCALLIONS

CHILLED BLACKENED SIRLOIN OF BEEF

CHIMICHURRI CHICKEN THIGHS

CHOCOLATE CAKE PUDDING

CHOCOLATE FUDGE BUNDT CAKE

COMPANY POTATOES

CORNMEAL SCALLOPS WITH ASPARAGUS

CRAB AND ARTICHOKE SALAD

CREOLE MUSTARD SAUCE

CROCKPOT CHERRY COBBLER

DILL DIP

DILL DIP 02

DUCK CONFIT

FRENCH SILK PIE

GRILLED RADICCHIO WITH GOAT CHEESE

GUACAMOLE CHICKEN THIGH ROLLS

HERB CRUSTED LAMB EVOKES MEMORIES

HOMESTYLE LASAGNA ROLLS

HONEY TAFFY

LEMON DESSERT

LIGHT TURKEY ENCHILADAS CASSEROLE

MAGDAS LAMB ROAST

MAPLE MUSTARD CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

MUSHROOM MEATBALL STROGANOFF

MUSSEL AND POTATO SALAD

NATIVE BEAN SALAD

NORWEGIAN SALMON

ORANGE ADDS ZEST TO SHRIMP AND CHILE

OREGANO CHICKEN

ORIENTAL CAULIFLOWER

ORIGINAL BBQ SAUCE

PAPILLOTES DE SAUMON FUME CLAUDINE

PARTY POTATOES

PEPPER TO JELLY INFORMATION

PESTO

POTATO AND ALMOND CAKE

POTATO AND KALE SOUP WITH SCALLOPS

POTATO CASSEROLE

POTATOES DO NOT ABSORB EXCESS SALT

QUENELLES OF FRESH SALMON

QUICK CHOCOLATE BANANA MUFFINS

ROAST STICKY CHICKEN

SHRIMP with TOMATO

SLOW COOKED LAMB CHOPS

SOPAIPILLAS

SPAGHETTI ALLA CHITARRA

SPAGHETTINI WITH SHRIMP

SPRING BONANZA IN A WORD ASPARAGUS

STEAMED ASPARAGUS AND CHICKEN

TUSCAN CHICKEN CAKES

VEGGIE TIPS INFORMATION

VIDALIA ONION TART

 

 

 

A TASTE OF SPRING

A change of season brings a change of produce

BY RON OTTOBRE, Contra Costa Times correspondent

I was like a kid on Christmas morning when I headed into a meeting with my chefs recently. It was the passing of winter, however, not its climax, that had me so excited. And it was our gardener, not Santa, who held my wish list -- an alphabetized cornucopia of spring produce.

 

Asparagus, that edible lily, headed the lists from both our gardener and our favorite produce purveyor. The emblem of spring would at last grace our soups, appetizers, pastas and side dishes.

 

But wait! The gifts continued: baby carrots, green garlic, heirloom beets, new potatoes, rhubarb, Romanesque broccoli and spring onions. We began to work together, tossing about ideas for spring menus and recipes.

 

For the home chef, meals with spring produce can be easy and inspired. Preparation times are reduced. Simple combinations take advantage of freshness. And spring herbs such as cilantro, chervil, rosemary and thyme can add complexity and interest to dishes.

 

A saute pan filled with lightly blanched vegetables and a kiss of extra virgin olive oil or sweet butter is all it takes to complete a dish of freshly caught salmon, roast chicken or spring lamb.

 

Salads become entrees. Tender greens and radicchio mingle with roasted baby beets or tiny shaved artichokes. Add a little feta cheese, some croutons, a good sherry vinegar and a little olive oil and see what spring tastes like. Or try a stir-fry of sliced green garlic, broccoli florets and snow peas. Add some pasta al dente, top with grated Parmesan, and dinner is served.

 

At home, after a week in the restaurant, I grill everything. My approach is simple. I might take some baby carrots, spring onions and new potatoes and toss them with fresh cracked pepper, olive oil, aged red wine vinegar and some chopped herbs. I seal them up in aluminum foil packets and toss on the grill with whatever main course I'm serving. I turn the packets often -- gently pressing the thickest vegetables to see when they're tender -- and done.

The season's best

 

The selection of vegetables available right now, after a long winter, is astonishing. But the star of the season is asparagus. Roasted or grilled, sauteed or steamed, this quickly prepared stalk should be front and center on any plate. Asparagus officinal, the parent species of most cultivated varieties, has been used as food and medicine for more than 2,000 years. The Greeks harvested wild asparagus, and the ancient Romans later invented the first techniques for domestication. While plants are not cut for the first two to three years of growth, they may last a half-century.

 

California produces 70 percent of the nation's asparagus, most of it green. But it comes in other colors. Sweet purple is a variety whose lovely shade quickly fades if overcooked. The white variety, preferred by Europeans, is grown under mounds of earth to prevent it from turning color.

 

Young, thin shoots are my first choice for flavor and rapid cooking, but thicker stalks are great when skewered in rows and tossed straight on the grill.

Preparing asparagus

 

Asparagus is easily readied by snapping off the tough, whitish ends of the stem, which I save for flavoring stocks. Classic French preparation demands peeling the stem, but that isn't necessary with the more tender shoots. Blanching is best done in rapidly boiling salted water. One minute is usually enough for pencil-sized asparagus. If using in salads or reheating in a little foamy butter, flash cool the stalks in ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve the verdant color.

 

That green is the same enticing shade as the grapevine that our gardener was tending as my chefs and I concluded our meeting and glanced out the restaurant's dining room window. Spring has arrived, the season of freshness has returned.

 

ARIZONA ICED TEA WITH GINSENG EXTRACT

 

When John Ferolito and Don Vultaggio were thinking of names for their new line of iced teas back in 1992, they scanned a map for inspiration. The idea was to find a location with hot weather. Santa Fe was the first name that smacked 'em in the face, but the two later settled on the sweltering state of Arizona, with the funky addition of a capital "Z" in the middle. Now AriZona Beverage Company makes over 30 varieties of iced teas, coffees, elixirs, juices and other hip drinks. This clone of their popular black tea with ginseng can be made with just one regular size tea bag and liquid ginseng that you can find in any decent health food store worth a grain of organic salt.

 

From Top Secret Recipes:

 

2 quarts (8 cups) water

1 Lipton tea bag

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ginseng extract

 

1. Heat water in a large saucepan until it boils. Turn off heat, put the teabag in the water, then cover the pan and let the tea steep for 1 hour.

2. Pour the sugar into a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the tea into the pitcher and stir to dissolve sugar.

3. Add lemon juice and ginseng and stir. Cool and serve. (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com) Makes 2 quarts.

 

ASIAN FAJITAS

Makes 12 fajitas

Marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

1 pound beef sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced into strips across the grain

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1/2 onion, cut into matchsticks

6 ounces asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths

1 yellow squash, cut into matchsticks

Salsa

2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1/2 small onion, chopped

2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons chili paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

Sour cream mixture

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups shredded lettuce

12 flour tortillas, warmed

 

Combine marinade ingredients in a sealable plastic bag. Add beef, seal bag, and turn to evenly coat. Let stand for one hour or refrigerate overnight.

 

One hour before cooking, combine salsa ingredients and sour cream mixture ingredients in separate bowls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 

Strain beef, reserving marinade. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add cooking oil, swirling to coat sides. Add beef and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add onion, asparagus, squash and 1/4 cup of reserved marinade and stir-fry until vegetables are tender yet crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

 

To serve, place a small portion of beef mixture on a warm tortilla with lettuce, salsa and sour cream mixture. Wrap up and eat out of hand.

 

ASPARAGUS WITH BALSAMIC DRIZZLE

AND CREAM CHEESE

Serves up to 6

 

1 1/2 pounds medium-sized asparagus, ends snapped and stems peeled

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced fine

1 green onion, sliced fine

1 small baguette, sliced into 1 1/2-inch slices

8 ounces softened cream cheese (or goat cheese)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

6 radishes, washed and sliced thinly

Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

In a steamer basket over boiling water, steam asparagus for 3-5 minutes or until fork tender, but not overcooked. Rinse immediately under cold water. Set aside until ready to use.

 

For the sauce, combine the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar and garlic in a small saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Over medium heat, reduce by half. Add the green onion. Adjust seasoning.

 

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, chives and tarragon.

 

In a toaster oven or under a broiler, toast one side of each of the baguette slices. Spread each with a small amount of the cream cheese mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and top with radish slices.

 

On one large platter or four to six individual plates, arrange the asparagus. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Arrange baguette slices with cheese near the asparagus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BANANA BREAD

 

(Freeze 2 or 3 bananas. When you defrost them, do NOT drain the liquid.)

 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons salad oil

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

1 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

2--3 bananas, defrosted, do not drain

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Measure

all ingredients into large mixer bowl; beat on medium speed 1/2 minute,

scraping side and bottom of bowl constantly. Pour into pan. Bake 55 to 65

minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove

from pan; cool thoroughly before slicing.

 

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

 

1 1/2 Cups Flour

3 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Egg

1/4 Cup Oil

3/4 Cup Milk

2/3 Cup Chocolate Chips

1/2 Cup pureed Banana

 

Blend all ingredients and pour into greased muffin tins. Bake @ 400°

for 18 to 20 minutes.

 

Variations:

1. Use pureed Pumpkin in place of Banana.

2. Use 1 1/2 Cup finely Grated Carrot and 1/2 Cup Raisins in place of

the Banana and Chips.

3. Use 1 1/2 Cup finely chopped Apple and 1/2 Cup Raisins in place of

the Banana and Chips. Mix 2 T. Sugar with 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon and sprinkle

over tops before baking.

 

BANANA CREAM CAKE

 

Banana Filling

1 sm pkg vanilla pudding mix

1 1/2 cups milk

4 small bananas -- thin slice (2 1/2c)

1 8 to 9" Sponge cake (prepare from mix or buy from bakery)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

banana & cocoonut

 

Filling: Cook pudding according to package directions, using the 1 1/2 cups milk. Cool slightly. Cover surface with plastic wrap to keep skin from forming. Chill until cool, stir in bananas.

 

Assembly: Using long serrated knife, cut cake into 3 even layers. Place layer on a serving plate and spread with about 1 1/2 cups filling. Top with second layer, remaining filling, then remaining cake layer. Beat cream and sugar in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted. Spread whipped cream over top and sides of cake. Just before serving, slice banana over top of cake and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

 

BANANA DESSERT DRINK

 

2 scoops sorbet -- any flavor

1 banana -- peeled and sliced

Dole

1/2 cup strawberries -- sliced Dole

1/2 cup blueberry

1 12 oz. can diet ginger ale

 

1. Place 1 scoop of sorbet in each of 2 large stemmed glasses or wine glasses.

2. Top each with banana, strawberries and blueberries.

3. Pour ginger ale over fruit.

 

BOUILLABAISSE

Serves 6

 

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped leek

1/4 cup chopped fresh fennel

1/4 cup chopped celery

8 oz. fresh fish fillets, diced

6 oz.. uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined

4 oz. mussels, scrubbed

4 oz. scallops

1 tsp. minced garlic

2 bay leaves

3 cups seafood stock*

1/2 cup diced tomato

1/2 cup white wine

juice from 1/2 orange

1/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

small pinch saffron

4 oz. lobster meat, if desired

4 oz. chopped clams

 

In 5-quart Dutch oven heat 1Tbsp. oil until hot over medium-high heat, stir in onion, leek, fennel, celery, garlic and bay leaves. Cook until onion is tender. Stir in seafood stock, tomato, wine, orange juice, thyme and saffron. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes. In large frying pan heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add to stock mixture; simmer 3 to 4 minutes. Add clams; continue cooking until all seafood is cooked. Remove bay leaves; season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

CHICKEN AND BLACK BEAN SOUP

Makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut in cubes

11/2 cups minced onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 141/2-ounce cans chicken broth

2 15-ounce cans cooked black beans, rinsed and drained

2 141/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 15-ounce can corn, drained

1 21/4-ounce can sliced black olives

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (divided)

Grated Monterey jack cheese

 

In soup pan, heat oil over medium-high temperature. Add chicken and onion and cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, cayenne, cumin, salt, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.

 

Add black beans, tomatoes, corn and olives; simmer 10 minutes more. Stir in 1/4 cup of the cilantro and remove from heat. Ladle soup into individual bowls; sprinkle cheese and remaining cilantro on top.

 

CHICKEN POSOLE

Maria del Carmen Marquez

Makes 15 to 20 servings

 

Natalia Sanchez's mom adds a traditional mole to her chicken posole along with the usual garnishes of onion, cabbage and fresh lime juice. You can easily cut this recipe for small families.

 

The corn base (maiz molido):

 

8 cups dry corn kernels (any color; see accompanying story)

16 cups water (1 gallon)

6 heaping tablespoons pickling lime powder or a small clump, stirred with some

top liquid (totaling about3/4cup) from a bucket of food-grade slaked lime

(also known as cal; see accompanying story)

Salt to taste

 

Put corn, water and lime powder into a 2-gallon stockpot (not aluminum), stirring to dissolve the lime powder. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and lower heat to maintain a medium simmer for about 1 hour.

 

Set the pot in the sink and cool the corn with tap water.

 

Dump the corn into a large plastic or enamel colander (do not use aluminum) or a food-grade 2- to 5-gallon plastic bucket with holes punched in the bottom.

 

(If I've cooked only 1 to 2 cups of corn, I drain it into a regular size colander set over the pot in the sink; then I rinse the corn. If using 4 to 8 cups of corn, pour the corn into the bucket outdoors, near the garden hose. It's safe to do this on the grass.)

 

You need to wash away the mild alkaline solution (the limestone/water mixture) and gelatinous corn kernel skins from the corn kernels. Natalia rubs handfuls of kernels together and drops them back into the bucket, repeatedly changing the water until it finally runs clear.

 

Rinse the pot and lid well and put the kernels back into the pot; add water to cover by 2 or 3 inches. Cover and bring the corn to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer on medium-low for 2 hours. Add water to keep the kernels covered, if necessary. Add about 11/2 tablespoons of salt.

 

The Chicken

Next add the chicken.

 

Natalia's mom uses 2 whole chickens. If you make only a 1- to 2-cup corn batch, use 1 large chicken breast.

 

Gently lower the chicken into the simmering corn stew, cover the pot and cook about 1 hour for whole chicken, 30 to 40 minutes for a chicken breast. When the chicken is fork tender, carefully remove it to a platter, cover it with foil and allow to cool. If cooking the corn longer than 1 hour, refrigerate the chicken.

 

Simmer the corn for at least another hour to infuse the chicken flavor. (Natalia says the corn gets better with longer cooking -- up to 3 hours.)

 

Vegetarian option: It's not the same and it's not likely to be called posole, but it's a great "naked" corn stew base. Add an onion, a few mushrooms, some oregano and a little soy sauce.

The Mole

 

6 heads garlic

1/2 cup sesame seeds

3 whole dry chili negro peppers, stemmed and seeded (use scissors; see note)

2 whole dry pasilla or ancho peppers, stemmed and seeded (use scissors; see

note)

3 whole dry California peppers, stemmed and seeded (use scissors; see note)

25 whole dry chile de arbol, stemmed,

seeds left intact (see note)

8 whole black peppercorns (or1/4teaspoon ground pepper)

1 3-inch-long stick Mexican cinnamon, broken into pieces

5 whole cloves (or 1/8 teaspoon ground)

Water

8 roma tomatoes, stemmed and quartered

Vegetable oil (I use about1/2cup, Natalia uses 1 cup, her mom uses more than 2

cups)

1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

Salt

Dried Mexican bread crumbs, freshly crushed (optional; see note)

 

Rub most of the papery skin from each head of garlic while keeping them intact. Roast the garlic.

 

(I use a gas stove and set them on a metal flame tamer or flat Japanese stove-top toaster. Natalia uses an electric stove and sets them directly on the burner. I cover them with aluminum foil in a dome shape and set the burner on low heat. This takes about 30 minutes.)

 

After the garlic becomes tender, set aside to cool.

 

Pan-toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. You want a toasted aroma and flavor. Do not scorch. Set aside to cool.

 

Pan-toast both sides of the dried peppers separately in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, until they start to smell toasty. The 4 types take different times: the chile negro takes the longest, next the pasilla, then the California, while the de arbol takes the least time, so watch them carefully. Do not scorch. Discard any loose seeds as they tend to scorch easily. Set aside to cool.

 

Crush the peppercorns, cinnamon stick and whole cloves together. (I use an electric spice/coffee grinder, but you can use a mortar and pestle or blender.) Set aside in a small bowl.

 

Crush the sesame seeds and set aside. Peel the roasted garlic and set aside.

 

Place toasted peppers in a blender and whirl them into smithereens. With the blender running, slowly add enough water to make a slurry. Add the tomatoes and garlic and process until mixture is the consistency of a milky smoothie. Set aside.

 

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Pour in the tomato mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes, until liquid is reduced and the solids are frying. Stir in the ground sesame seeds and spices. Add oregano and salt to taste. Add bread crumbs (2 to 3 tablespoons, or as desired) if you want a thicker sauce. Makes about 5 cups.

 

Note: Find whole dry chile peppers in cellophane bags at Big City Produce, 5128 N. Albina Ave.; Sheridan Market, 409 S.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; Fred Meyer stores and other supermarkets.

 

Note: Wear gloves when handling fresh, canned, dried or pickled chilies; the oils can cause a burning sensation on your skin.

 

Note: Find Mexican bread crumbs in jars at Big City Produce. (I don't use them; Natalia uses only a sprinkle.)

The Garnishes

 

1 head green cabbage: Trim, quarter and remove core. Slice into very thin strips.

1 white sweet onion: Trim and dice finely.

 

The cooked chicken: Remove skin and pull strips of meat from bones.

 

5 fresh limes: Quarter.

 

To serve: Ladle the corn stew into large individual bowls, arranging cabbage, onion and chicken around the edge. Squeeze lime juice over all and add a dollop of mole. Stir to blend and eat.

 

CHILI FRIED SHRIMP WITH SCALLIONS AND ORANGE

Serves 4

1 orange or tangelo

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

4 or more small dried chilies, or to taste

1 1/2 to 2 pounds shrimp, peeled

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 to 16 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths.

 

With a vegetable peeler or paring knife, remove zest from orange, avoiding the white pith. Cut zest into 1-inch lengths. Cut orange in half, and juice it; set juice aside.

 

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add oil. A minute later, add chilies and zest. After a minute or so, chilies will start to smoke; turn heat to high, and add shrimp. Cook without stirring for about 2 minutes, then stir shrimp, and season with salt and pepper.

 

Add scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in orange juice and cook for 30 seconds. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve.

 

CHILLED BLACKENED SIRLOIN OF BEEF

WITH CREOLE MUSTARD SAUCE

(serves 6)

 

2 lb. center cut prime sirloin of beef

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.Trim fat to 1/8" on sirloin, coat with oil. Dredge sirloin on all sides with seasoning. Place sirloin in a well-heated (hot) iron skillet. Add 2-3 pats of butter. Cook 5 minutes on each side, adding butter as needed. Transfer to oven and roast until meat reaches internal temperature of 114° F. Remove and refrigerate overnight. Slice sirloin into 12 even slices and arrange on chilled salad plate. Serve with 2 oz. pool of mustard sauce and garnish with red onion and capers.

 

Blackened Seasoning

(makes 1 cup)

1/3 cup paprika

1 1 tbsp. each garlic and onion powder

1 tbsp. each white, black and cayenne pepper

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp. each thyme, basil, oregano

1/4 cup salt

1 1/4 sticks whole butter (cut in pats)

 

Mix all ingredients well

 

CHIMICHURRI CHICKEN THIGHS

WITH STICKY SAUCE

Makes 4 servings

Chimichurri:

 

11/2 cups olive oil

11/4 cups red wine vinegar

11/2 cups chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley

3/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

Chicken:

 

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

3 tablespoons olive oil

Red bell pepper rings

Yellow bell pepper rings

Fresh basil leaves

 

To make chimichurri: In medium bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, parsley, basil, bell peppers, garlic, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, salt and freshly ground pepper; set aside.

 

To make chicken: Pound chicken to even thickness and place in resealable bag. Pour half of chimichurri over chicken and marinate in refrigerator at least 20 minutes. Reserve remaining chimichurri. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Blot chicken dry with paper towels.

 

In large skillet or stove-top grill pan, place olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook about 5 minutes on each side or until fork-tender. Place chicken on serving platter and top with remaining chimichurri. Garnish with red and yellow bell pepper rings and basil leaves.

 

CHOCOLATE CAKE PUDDING

1 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted before measuring

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

1 ounce square unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup milk

1 beaten egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts

Topping:

2 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup boiling water

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, and sift together three times. Set aside. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in milk, egg and vanilla. Stir liquid ingredients into flour mixture. Add nuts. Place batter in a well-greased, 8-inch round oven-proof dish about 1 inch deep.

 

Prepare topping by combining cocoa, brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Sprinkle over batter. Pour boiling water over batter. Bake 45-50 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

 

CHOCOLATE FUDGE BUNDT CAKE

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups sour cream

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup water

1 box devil's food cake mix

1 small package (4-serving size) instant chocolate pudding mix

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Mix together eggs, sour cream, oil and water. Add cake mix and chocolate pudding mix. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45-55 minutes, until cake springs back when touched. Cool 30 minutes before removing from pan. Invert on a plate, and dust with powdered sugar when cool.

 

COMPANY POTATOES

Makes 8 servings

 

6 tablespoons butter, melted (divided)

3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices

Salt and pepper

 

Add 3 tablespoons of melted butter to a 10-inch cast-iron or heavy ovenproof skillet. Arrange a single layer of potato slices, slightly overlapping, in a circular pattern in the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

 

Drizzle a little more melted butter over the potatoes. Repeat the layer 5 times, ending with drizzled butter. Press down firmly to pack.

 

Cover and bake for 20 minutes at 450 degrees. Uncover and bake another 25 minutes until potatoes are golden. Place a 10- or 12-inch plate upside down on top of the pan and flip the pancake onto the plate.

 

CORNMEAL SCALLOPS WITH ASPARAGUS

 

If you live near a coast, try to find scallops that are naturally harvested or not bleached or treated with chemicals to lighten them. They may not look as uniform, and they are worth the extra cost for health and environmental reasons.

Serves 4

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 whole canned chipotle, pureed or minced fine

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons sugar

salt to taste

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

1 pound scallops

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon dried coriander

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

2 tablespoons salted butter

lime wedges to garnish

 

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, lime juice, chipotle and cilantro. Allow to marinate for at least half an hour, then salt to taste.

 

Steam or boil asparagus for about 5 minutes or until well softened. You are serving asparagus with tender scallops so the texture should not be intrusive or crunchy. Set asparagus aside and keep warm or at room temperature until scallops are cooked.

 

Using a sharp knife, cut off tough muscle from scallops. In a small bowl, combine cornmeal, coriander, salt and pepper. Dust scallops with mixture. Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Brown scallops on both sides. When scallops are very fresh, there is no need to cook beyond warming throughout. They are tastier and sweeter when left slightly translucent in center.

 

Divide asparagus evenly on four plates. Place one-fourth of scallops on top or to side of the asparagus on each plate. Drizzle chipotle marinade over asparagus and scallops. Garnish with lime wedges.

 

This is a great picnic dish. You can prepare it a day ahead and serve at room temperature the next day. If you're on a budget, ask for a similar firm fish fillet that can be cut into pieces the size of scallops.

 

Straightforward and easy, this dish is wonderful served over steamed rice or couscous. If you can't find blood oranges, any juicing orange will work.

 

CRAB AND ARTICHOKE SALAD

WITH WONTON CROUTONS

Serves 4

 

Salad dressing (about 1/2 cup)

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sweet chile sauce

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons walnut oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 to 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups baby mixed greens

Crab mixture

1 cup cooked lump dungeness crab meat

1 cup artichoke hearts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

12 pieces canned lychees, cut in half

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 large vine-ripened tomato, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons deep-fried wonton strips (wonton croutons)

3 tablespoons glazed walnuts, pre-packaged

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon each balsamic vinegar and Chinese Chinkiang vinegar

 

Combine all dressing ingredients except walnut oil and sesame oil in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oils and whisk continuously until emulsified. Place chopped tomato in a small bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon salad dressing and set aside. Toss greens with remaining salad dressing. Drain well and set aside.

 

Combine crab mixture ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Slightly oil the inside of 4 small (6-ounce) ramekins and divide crab mixture equally. Top with tomato mixture. Set aside in refrigerator.

 

To serve, line 4 large plates with sliced cucumber and sliced tomato. Invert ramekins onto center of each plate. Divide tossed mixed greens into equal parts and place on top of crab mixture. Garnish with wonton croutons, glazed walnuts and toasted sesame seeds. Drizzle a little olive oil and vinegar around the crab salad.

 

CREOLE MUSTARD SAUCE

 

1 cup creole mustard

2 tbsps.. mayonnaise

1/2 tsp. each white, black and cayenne pepper

1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

 

CROCKPOT CHERRY COBBLER

1 can cherry pie filling -- (16 oz)

1 pkg cake mix for one layer cake

1 egg

3 tbsp. evaporated milk

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Put pie filling in lightly buttered 3 1/2 quart crock pot and cook on high

for 30 minutes. Mix together the remaining ingredients and spoon onto the

hot pie filling. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours on low.

 

DILL DIP

1-1/2 cup mayonnaise

1-1/2 cup sour cream

2 tsp dill weed

2 tsp beau monde

2 Tbs onion flakes

2 Tbs parsley flakes

Mix all ingredients together; Use round rye bread as bowl. Excellent!

 

DILL DIP 02

 

8 oz sour cream

8 oz mayonnaise (we think it tastes much better with mayo - not 'salad

dressing')

1 Tbsp onion flakes

1 Tbsp Seasoning salt

1 Tbsp dill weed

This keeps well in the refrigerator.

 

DUCK CONFIT

Serves 10

 

10 Duck Legs

20 to 30 oz Mixed Greens (2-3 oz per portion)

Mixed Greens - Onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leafs, juniper berries, thyme, rosemary, oregano

1/5 oz Red Wine Vinagrette with Dill

Garnish: Enoki Mushroom

 

Cut each duck leg along the leg bone seasoned with salt and braised in duck fat and savor in the oven at very low heat. (Recommend adding a little water for time to time to keep the leg moist). When meat is done (soft), remove from the fat and crisp in the boiler.

 

Salad, mix onions, celery, garlic, bay leafs, juniper berries, thyme, rosemary, oregano and red wine vinaigrette well and place on the plate, topped with hot duck leg (confit) with the leg bone removed. Garnish with mushrooms.

 

 

FRENCH SILK PIE

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter (NOT margarine)

2 or 2 1/2 squares unsweetened chocolate (melted and cooled)

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

3 eggs

1 9" baked pastry shell

Whipping Cream, lightly sweetened

chocolate curls

In small mixer bowl cream sugar and butter 4 minutes or until light and

fluffy. Stir in cooled chocolate and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time beating

on medium after each addition. Remember to scrape sides of bowl constantly.

Turn into baked pie shell. Chill several hours or overnight. Garnish with

whipped cream and chocolate curls. Cover and chill.

 

GRILLED RADICCHIO WITH GOAT CHEESE

AND ROASTED SHALLOTS

Serves 6

 

Marinade

 

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. chopped onion

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1/4 tsp. minced garlic

Cracked black pepper

 

In small jar with tight-fitting lid combine ingredients for marinade; season to taste with sale and cracked pepper. Shake well.

 

Other Ingredients

 

1 large head radicchio

2 Tbsp. olive oil

18 peeled whole shallots

1/4 tsp. minced garlic

8 oz. goat cheese

1/2 cup fresh bread crumb

1/4 tsp. minced garlic

Pinch chopped fresh thyme

Pinch chopped fresh oregano

Cracked black pepper

18 leaves Belgian endive

Cut radicchio into 2 halves leaving stem attached. Cut each half into 6 wedges. (It is important that the leaves remain attached to the stem.) Place in shallow dish; cover with marinade. Marinate 1 hour before serving. In medium frying pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add shallots and garlic; cook until tender. Shape goat cheese into 6 rounds. In small bowl combine bread crumbs, garlic, herbs and pepper. Coat goat cheese rounds well with crumb mixture. Place radicchio wedges on broiler pan. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Place cheese rounds and shallots on broiler pan. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is golden. Arrange 3 Belgian endive leaves toward top of each salad plate. Place 2 wedges of radicchio on top of endive with stems resting on the base of the endive. Place cheese round and 3 shallots at base of radicchio.

 

GUACAMOLE CHICKEN THIGH ROLLS

Makes 4 servings

2 avocados, pitted and diced

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large tomato, seeded and diced

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (21/2 ounces)

8 slices roasted red bell pepper

1/3 cup cracked black pepper (see note)

Lime twists

Red bell pepper slices

Fresh basil leaves

 

In small bowl, mix together avocados, lime juice, salt, red pepper flakes, cilantro, basil and garlic. Reserve half of mixture. To remaining mixture, add tomato and onion. Cover and refrigerate.

 

Place chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4-inch thickness.

 

In blender, blend reserved avocado mixture until smooth; stir in cheese.

 

On each thigh, place an equal amount of avocado mixture, add a slice of bell pepper and roll chicken, jellyroll fashion.

 

Sprinkle half of cracked pepper in flat, lightly oiled baking dish. Add chicken, seam side down, and sprinkle on remaining cracked pepper, pressing into chicken. Bake, uncovered, in 350-degree oven about 45 minutes or until meat registers 180 degrees.

 

On large platter, place bowl of refrigerated avocado mixture in center. Cut each chicken thigh into 4 pieces and arrange around sauce. Garnish with lime twists, red pepper slices and basil leaves.

 

Note: The cracked pepper could be adjusted to taste.

 

HERB CRUSTED LAMB EVOKES MEMORIES

BY BRENDAN SODIKOFF

Special to the Mercury News

Magda was raised in Poland but as a young girl during World War II was forced to leave. She married a Frenchman from Antibes and they settled in Paris, first on Boulevard Saint Germain, then in a large third-floor flat in a hundred-year-old building whose French doors overlook the fountain on Place Saint Michel.

 

In her kitchen she has dried mushrooms strung on long strings like beads, arranged according to size from two inches to a quarter inch. They hang from the ceiling like little upside-down trees.

 

I stayed with Magda and her family when I first lived in Paris and was studying cuisine at the Ritz. We had lots of French food at her home, but I was also introduced to some Polish cooking. She made borscht on a cold night, a warm stew of pork and prunes or a veal stew with dried mushrooms, sweet onion and a touch of heavy cream. All of these dishes are variations on the originals, I'm sure. Memories of her childhood inspired the dishes but after living more than 20 years in Paris, tastes change and new creations are formed.

 

Magda makes a particular dinner I love. Roasted lamb with a crust of fresh herbs, spinach and bread crumbs, served with tomatoes and green beans. The method is simple, and the result is understated and wonderful.

 

Magda usually chooses a leg of lamb or a lamb sirloin roast for this dish. She coats the lamb with salt, placing an even amount on all sides. Even in exceptional restaurants, one sometimes finds meats where the salt is either missing in wide areas or where it is twice as thick as it should be.

 

After the salt, she covers the lamb with freshly ground pepper and lets it rest for 20 minutes, allowing the seasoning to set and the lamb to come closer to room temperature.

 

While the lamb sits, Magda removes the crust from a pain levain (a white country loaf) and cuts it into large dice, then runs it briefly in a food processor. To this she adds oil, herbs, seasonings, parsley and spinach. Then she pulses this all down to a rough or crumbly meal.

 

She uses fresh bread because it produces a different crumb than dry. The crumbs are less uniform in size, which creates a more interesting and crisper coating for the lamb.

 

While the lamb cooks, Magda halves and seeds tomatoes. She tops them with some of the bread and spinach mixture and browns them in the oven, carefully timing it so that the roast and the tomatoes are ready to serve at the same time.

 

She blanches the green beans until they are just past al dente, which is the way she prefers them. Salt heightens the taste and helps retain the beans' bright color.

 

Magda removes the lamb from the oven and lets it rest for 10 minutes. This allows the outside of the roast to relax and retain moisture and the inside to continue cooking slowly from residual heat. When the cooking process begins, the outside of the roast contracts, pushing all the moisture to the inside where the lamb is still cool and relaxed. Resting allows the juice to return to the outer edges and set. This way only minimal amounts of juice will be released when slicing. When the roast finishes resting, Magda warms the beans, tossing them with a tiny bit of olive oil and a few sprigs of thyme.

 

This meal is perfect for spring. Magda served it in the dining room on the long dark table. The entree was followed by a crisp tender green salad with a mustard and red wine vinaigrette and after that, a bit of cheese.

 

This is the type of cooking I love in a home, where inspiration and the necessity to feed a family every day lead the way. Just as we finished our meal one night, the streetlights went on and a gentle rain began in the Place Saint Michel, sending the waiters out to pull in the chairs. We sat back enjoying our coffee as the trees rustled outside the window.

 

HOMESTYLE LASAGNA ROLLS

 

1 1/2 pounds Lean Ground Beef

1 cup Mushrooms -- fresh, chopped

1 medium Onion -- finely chopped

1 small Carrot -- minced

1 clove Garlic -- minced

1/4 cup Dry Red Wine

1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

2 cups Mozzarella Cheese -- shredded

1 Egg -- lightly beaten

1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese -- grated

28 ounces Spaghetti Sauce -- (jar)

16 ounces Lasagna Noodles -- large package

Salt and Pepper -- to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, brown ground beef.

Drain fat. Add mushrooms, onion, carrot and garlic, then saute until

vegetables are tender. Add wine, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and

cook until wine is almost evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10

to 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine meat mixture,

mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Pour 1/2 jar spaghetti

sauce evenly in a 13" x 9" baking pan or dish. Evenly spread 1/3 cup meat

filling over length of each lasagna noodle. Carefully roll up noodle. Place

SEAM SIDE DOWN in baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles. Bake,

covered, 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with 3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Bake 5

minutes or until bubbly.

 

HONEY TAFFY

 

2 cups sugar

2 cups honey

2/3 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil to the hard-crack stage when tested in cold water or 288 degrees using a candy thermometer. Before removing from heat, add salt. Pour onto a buttered platter until cool enough to handle. Butter hands and pull candy until white. Cut into pieces and wrap each piece with waxed paper.

 

LEMON DESSERT

 

1 stick margarine

1 cup flour

1/2 cup chopped nuts

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

2 cans or 2 packages of cooked lemon pudding

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1/2 cup toasted coconut

 

Combine margarine, flour and nuts and press into a 9x13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool.

 

Fold cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 cup whipped cream together and spread over crust.

 

Spread pudding over first layer. Spread second cup of whipped cream over pudding. Sprinkle coconut over top and chill.

 

LIGHT TURKEY ENCHILADAS CASSEROLE

1 pound lean ground turkey

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic -- minced

6 ounces tomato sauce

1 teaspoon chiles -- bottled, chopped

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup frozen green peas -- thawed

4 corn tortillas

2 ounces lowfat mozzarella cheese -- shredded

Dash cayenne pepper

Mix ground turkey, onion and garlic and place in a 2-quart casserole.

Microwave on High 4 to 6 minutes, stirring, until turkey loses pink color.

Drain.

Stir in tomato sauce, chilies, chili powder, lemon juice, and pepper, and

microwave on High another 4 to 6 minutes, stirring mid-cycle. Stir in peas.

In 1 1/2-quart casserole or baking dish, layer tortillas, turkey mixture,

and cheese alternately, topping with some of the cheese and dash of cayenne.

Microwave on High 2 to 3 minutes until cheese bubbles. Let stand a minute or

so before serving. Yield: 6 servings.

If you are microwave challenged, perform the first two steps in a skillet

until desired results are achieved, then bake the assembled casserole in a

375 degree F. oven until cheese bubbles and dish is heated through, about 10

to 20 minutes.

 

MAGDAS LAMB ROAST

Serves 4

For the lamb:

3- to 4-pound leg of lamb or lamb sirloin roast

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1-pound loaf white country bread

1/4 cup virgin olive oil plus some extra to coat the pan and the roast

1 1/2 bunches parsley, preferably flat-leaf

2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves

1 large sprig fresh rosemary OR 1/2 teaspoon dried

4 sprigs fresh thyme plus one extra for the roasting pan

6 unpeeled garlic cloves

For the vegetables:

6 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded

Sugar

1 pound green beans, ends removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 spring thyme

 

Sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper. Set aside for 20 minutes.

 

Trim the crusts from the loaf of bread and chop it into large dice. Process the bread cubes briefly in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, parsley, spinach leaves, rosemary leaves, thyme leaves, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and pulse to a crumbly meal.

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil. Add unpeeled garlic cloves and remaining sprig of thyme to the pan.

 

Pat the roast with olive oil and cover with HALF of the bread and spinach mixture. Set it in the pan and roast uncovered 20-25 minutes a pound for medium rare. When it is ready, let it rest 10 minutes before slicing.

 

For the vegetables: Put the tomatoes cut side up in an oiled 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle to taste with salt and sugar and mound each tomato with the remaining bread and spinach mixture. Set in the oven to brown for 25 minutes. Time it so the tomatoes are ready when the roast is ready to serve.

 

Cook the green beans in rapidly boiling water, salted to taste. Cool in ice-cold water and drain. When the roast and tomatoes are ready, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and a sprig of thyme in a pan and quickly toss the beans in this.

 

To serve, place the roast on a platter surrounded by the tomatoes and green beans.

 

MAPLE MUSTARD CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

WITH STICKY SAUCE

Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons plus1/4cup Dijon mustard (divided)

5 tablespoons dry mustard (divided)

2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (divided)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 chicken drumsticks

1 cup panko or dry white bread crumbs (see note)

Fresh basil sprigs

Red, yellow and green bell pepper strips

 

In small bowl, mix together olive oil, 3 tablespoons of the Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of the dry mustard, 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup and kosher salt. Place drumsticks in resealable plastic bag and pour mixture over the chicken. Marinate in refrigerator at least 30 minutes.

 

In small shallow bowl, crush panko and add remaining 3 tablespoons dry mustard. Roll chicken in panko mixture and place on rack on baking sheet. Place in 375-degree oven and bake about 40 minutes or until chicken is fork-tender.

 

In small bowl, mix together remaining 1/3 cup maple syrup and1/4cup Dijon mustard. Heat and serve with drumsticks for dipping. Garnish with basil and pepper strips.

 

Note: Panko crumbs are Japanese-style bread crumbs and are available in the Asian food section of most grocery stores.

 

MUSHROOM MEATBALL STROGANOFF

1 pound ground beef

1 egg -- beaten

1 cup soft bread crumbs

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

Dash ground black pepper

1 1/4 ounces mushroom soup, packet

4 1/2 ounces mushrooms, whole -- jarred, drained

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups water

1/2 cup sour cream

Hot cooked noodles

Combine ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, seasoned salt, pepper, and 2

tablespoons of soup mix, reserving remaining soup mix; mix well. Cover each

whole mushroom with about 1 tablespoon meat mixture, carefully sealing all

around. Place meatballs in a 15- x 10- x 1-inch jellyroll pan; bake,

uncovered, at 375 degrees F. for 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Drain on

paper towels.

Combine remaining soup mix, flour, and water in a large saucepan; mix well.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened; stir

in sour cream. Add meatballs; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly,

until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Serve meatballs over hot cooked

noodles. Yield: 6 servings.

 

MUSSEL AND POTATO SALAD

Serves 4

1/2 pound small Desirée potatoes, peeled (or use French Fingerling, Red Bliss

or Yukon Gold)

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

48 mussels, steamed open, chilled and shucked

1 pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed and quartered

12 tiny nioise olives, pitted

1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Place potatoes in saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to boil, decrease heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes, until just tender. Drain and allow to cool briefly, then slice potatoes. Place in a bowl.

 

In small bowl, mix vinegar, mustard and anchovy paste. Slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified, then stir in garlic. Pour over potatoes and toss gently. Fold in mussels, tomatoes, olives, parsley and orange zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

NATIVE BEAN SALAD

 

2 tbsp. malt vinegar

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp. Chopped fresh oregano

1/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

3/4 cup cooked wax beans

3/4 cup cooked red beans

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

3/4 cup cooked green beans

3/4 cup cooked navy beans

3/4 cup cooked black beans

In small jar with tight-fitting lid combine dressing ingredients, shake well. In large bowl mix all salad ingredients together; toss with dressing. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Cover; refrigerate at least 6 hours. Serve salad chilled.

 

NORWEGIAN SALMON

"GRAVLAX"

(for 15 servings)

 

1 3 lb side of fresh Norwegian salmon

 

1/2 lb crystal sugar

1/2 lb kosher salt

1 bunch fresh dill, snipped

1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed

1/2 cup white vinegar

2 cups olive oil

2 cups vegetable oil

1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped coarsely

1 tbsp white peppercorns, freshly crushed

 

Mix the sugar and salt. Trim the salmon fillet and remove the small bones with a tweezers, leaving only the skin on. Pat the fish dry. Sprinkle a shallow dish, long enough to hold the salmon fillet, with half of the sugar & salt mixture. Place in the salmon fillet skin up, cover with the remaining mixture. Add the vinegar, cover with plastic film and reserve in the refrigerator for 48 hours, turning the salmon every 8 hours.

 

Remove the salmon from the brine, rinse under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel, discard the brine. Rinse the shallow pan, dry then add in one half of the olive oil and vegetable oil, place the salmon skin down, top with the scallions, fresh dill, coriander, white peppercorns, cover with the remaining oils.

 

Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 3 days.

 

When ready to serve, remove the salmon fillet from the marinade, wipe off most of the herbs, spices and oil.

 

Slice the salmon of the diagonal into thin slices, as you would smoked salmon.

 

ORANGE ADDS ZEST TO SHRIMP AND CHILES

EASY DISH GOOD WITH BEEF, TOO

BY MARK BITTMAN, New York Times

 

I accidentally ate a dried chili the other day, and after downing a bowlful of rice to put out the fire in my mouth, recalled the first time I ordered ``beef with orange flavor'' in a Chinese restaurant.

I was served a dish that should have been named ``chilies with orange flavor.'' It featured at least 60 dried red peppers, along with a little beef and orange peel. This was decades ago, and I have steered clear of the dish ever since.

 

Recently, however, I started thinking about how nicely the flavors of chili and orange complement each other and how good such a dish could be.

 

After recreating the dish with beef, I switched to shrimp. They take better to the orange and generate enough liquid so that no stock is necessary to keep the dish juicy.

 

The last step was to add scallions, not only for their flavor but because their bright green offsets the colors of the chilies and orange and makes the dish sparkle.

 

This is essentially a stir-fry, and an easy one. A couple of things are worth noting: Though the recipe usually calls for an orange, a tangelo is even better. Those labeled Minneolas have good flavor and vivid color, and are preferable to a thin-skinned orange for this dish. Don't use a zester, for you will want fairly large pieces of zest. Stick with a vegetable peeler or paring knife, and avoid as much of the bitter white pith as you can.

 

The recipe calls for peeled shrimp, but if you like, remove only the tails and feelers, and leave the shells on. The shells are edible and will contribute flavor and crunch to the dish.

 

You can, of course, peel the shrimp at the table and have the pleasure of licking the juices off your fingers.

 

And if you want to use beef instead, purchase about a pound of sirloin, flank or blade steak. Slice it very thinly before proceeding as below. If you freeze it for about 30 minutes before you slice it, your task will be much easier.

 

Because I like just a suggestion of heat, I find three or four chilies plenty. But you can add a handful if you like your food fiery.

 

I don't recommend eating them.

 

OREGANO CHICKEN

1/4 cup butter or margarine -- melted

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon garlic powder

6 chicken breast halves without skin -- boneless

Combine first 6 ingredients. Place chicken in an ungreased 11- x 7- x 1

1/2-inch baking dish. Pour half of butter mixture over chicken.

Bake at 375 degrees F. for 15 minutes, and pour remaining butter mixture

over chicken.

Bake 15 additional minutes or until juices run clear. Transfer chicken to a

serving platter. Yield: 6 servings.

 

ORIENTAL CAULIFLOWER

1 medium cauliflower, head

1 medium onion -- chopped

1/3 cup diced celery

3 sprigs fresh parsley -- chopped

1 tablespoon butter or margarine -- melted

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 chicken bouillon cube

1 cup hot water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Dash freshly ground black pepper

Wash cauliflower, and break into flowerets. Cook, covered, in a small amount

of boiling salted water about 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain.

Saute onion, celery, and parsley in butter until tender. Remove from heat;

add cornstarch, stirring until blended. Dissolve bouillon cube in 1 cup hot

water; gradually add to vegetable mixture, stirring constantly. Add soy

sauce and pepper; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth

and thickened. Pour over cauliflower in serving dish. Yield: 6 servings.

 

ORIGINAL BBQ SAUCE

by BULL'S-EYE

 

Some think it's the best off-the-shelf barbecue sauce in the business. That secret combination of molasses, liquid smoke and spices makes this thick, smoky stuff irresistible on chicken, ribs or a juicy hamburger. If you're grilling this week and forgot to pick up some of the real stuff at the store, why not whip up a clone batch of your own with this top secret formula?

 

From Top Secret Recipes:

 

1 cup water

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup tomato paste

2/3 cup vinegar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons molasses

1 1/4 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

dash cayenne

 

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat and whisk until smooth.

2. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes or until thick.

3. After the sauce cools you can use it immediately, but it's best to store it in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight where the flavor improves. (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com) Makes 1 1/2 cups.

 

PAPILLOTES DE SAUMON FUME CLAUDINE

(Smoked salmon parcels Claudine)

Serves 6

 

6 slices smoked salmon each weighing about 1 1/2oz.

4 oz. smoked salmon trimming

11 oz double cream

6 tbls. fish aspic (fish stock)

salt

 

Lay the 6 slices of smoked salmon on a wooden board or work surface. Divide the mousse between the slices, then roll up each one. Fold over the ends to form neat parcels. Arrange the parcels on a round wire rack and place in the refrigerator. When they are very cold, use a spoon to coat the papillotes with the half-set fish aspic.

 

Aspic Ingredients

2lbs 2oz fish bones & heads (any white fish)

2 oz onions

1 leek (white part only)

2 oz mushrooms

2 oz butter

4 oz dry white wine

1 bouquet garni

3 1/2 pints water

 

Remove the gills from the fish heads. Soak the bones and heads in cold water for 3 to4 hours. Roughly chop the fish bones and heads. Wash and chop the vegetables and sweat them in the butter. Then add the chopped bones and heads and simmer for a few minutes. Pour in the white wine. Increase the heat and reduce the liquid by half, then cover the contents of the pan with water. Bring the mixture to a the boil, skimming the surface frequently. After 5 minutes' cooking time, add the bouquet garni and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Carefully strain the stock into a bowl through a muslin-lined sieve. leave to cool, then store in the refrigerator.

 

The stock will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator and for several weeks in the freezer.

 

To Make Fish Aspic: If the stock is very clear, the addition of a few leaves of gelatine will produce a fish aspic. A few slices of lemon squeezed into the aspic will give it a slightly sharp flavour.

 

The Mousse:

 

Place the smoked salmon trimmings and the smoked trout in a blender or food processor and process for 1 minute.

 

Rub the resulting puree through a fine sieve into a small bowl set in crushed ice.

 

Using a spatula fold in 2 tbls. melted, cooled fish aspic, then gradually stir in the cream adding a very little at a time, particularly at first, to avoid any lumps.

 

Season to taste.

 

PARTY POTATOES

Makes 6 servings

1/3 cup butter

4 cups hot mashed potatoes

1 8-ounce package cream cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Paprika to taste

 

Stir butter into hot potatoes. Whip cream cheese with sour cream until it is smooth and fluffy. Stir into mashed potatoes along with salt and pepper.

 

Spoon mixture into buttered 11/2- to 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with paprika and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

PEPPER TO JELLY INFORMATION

Nearly as divine as water to wine

By CATHERINE CORA, CONTRA COSTA TIMES

(Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2001)

 

I don't know what it is about us Southerners that makes us want to can everything in sight. When fruits and vegetables are teeming from the garden, what is not eaten is canned.

 

Growing up in Mississippi, I knew plenty of women who, year after year, would go through the rituals and hardships of canning. And pepper jelly is one of the prizes of a bountiful back yard.

 

Making the jam is not an easy process, it is time consuming and leaves even the cleanest cook's kitchen looking like a whole garden exploded. But the rewards are magical: green or red pepper jelly on roast lamb, stewed tomatoes with a hearty soup in the middle of winter, or with sweet figs on toast.

 

Grandma Jesse made a pepper jelly like nobody's business. When I taste that jelly, all I can say is, "Lord have mercy." I eat it straight from the jar!

 

When Jesse set to cooking, all hell would break loose in the kitchen. She was known all over Greenwood, Miss., for her cooking. Neighborhood kids would beg their parents to spend the night with Jesse's kids just so they could get in on the dinner spread. But the catch was the cleanup, which was left to the kids. The mess could make you cry, but in the end, it was always worth the tears.

 

Canning jars are held sacred in a Southerner's home. There was not one jar that Jesse did not keep -- mayonnaise jars, jelly jars, peanut butter jars ... you name it. Every one of those jars was put to use (call it recycling, Southern style). As for the fruits and vegetables used for the canning, that was a whole 'nother story.

 

If you wanted Grandma's pepper jelly, you had best bring her some peppers. To this day, I don't think Jesse paid for one pepper she turned out for jelly. Still, friends and family came in droves for her jelly -- dropping off baskets full of green and red peppers. Jesse would whip up batches until the whole kitchen was filled with jars.

 

To begin the pepper jelly, I take 10 bell peppers and chop them into rough squares. I process them with a little water in a blender or food processor.

 

You can bet that neither Jesse nor many Southern cooks measure anything. That is the way they are taught to cook. It's a handful of this and a handful of that. So I throw in a minced jalapeño or two depending on my mood. I pour in maybe two big cupfuls each of apple cider vinegar and white sugar and bring it to a boil, simmering for about eight minutes.

 

If I really want a deep green color, I'll add in a few drops of good-quality food coloring. I then add in a package of pectin and boil for another two minutes.

 

I make sure I boil my jars really well to sterilize them and fill about a dozen half-pint jars. When cool, I screw on the lid tight and store in my pantry. The same jelly can be made with red bell peppers, instead of the green.

 

Jesse lives on in her cooking, and I aim to know all of her secrets one day. And I'm going to keep spreading the word and spreading the jelly. I adore it on roasted lamb and slow-roasted pork loin. Jesse used to serve up with her amazing biscuits. I have a batch of those biscuits in the oven as we speak. Gotta run!

 

PESTO

(Makes 1 cup)

 

2 cups loosely packed basil leaves

1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 garlic clove, peeled

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

 

Put all the ingredients except the cheese in a food processor fitted with the metal blade or in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the sauce into a bowl and stir in the Parmigiano. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

POTATO AND ALMOND CAKE

Serves 8

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for pan

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2/3 cup sugar

2 egg whites

1 cup mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, cooled

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8-inch spring form pan, dust with flour and shake out excess.

 

Whisk together flour, baking powder and 2 tablespoons sugar in bowl. Set aside. Melt butter and reserve.

 

In another bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. While beating constantly, gradually add all but 1 tablespoon of remaining sugar, until whites are firm and glossy. Set aside.

 

In a large bowl, whisk mashed potatoes with melted butter, cream, vanilla and egg yolks until smooth. Stir in reserved flour mixture. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle evenly with almonds and reserved 1 tablespoon sugar.

 

Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until cake is golden, shrinking from sides of pan a bit and springy to the touch. Cool on rack, remove sides of pan and serve.

 

POTATO AND KALE SOUP WITH SCALLOPS

Serves 8

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 pound sea scallops, halved horizontally

6 ounces kielbasa or other garlic sausage, coarsely diced

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 1/2 pounds Long White potatoes (or any moderately starchy white potatoes),

peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick

8 cups water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 cups packed finely shredded green kale, without stems

Crushed red pepper flakes

 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy skillet, preferably non-stick, over high heat. Add scallop pieces and sear quickly, about 1 minute on each side. Remove them and set aside.

 

Add sausage to skillet and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, until lightly browned. Add 1 tablespoon oil and saute onion and garlic 3-4 minutes, until tender but not brown. Transfer these ingredients to a large, deep saucepan. Add potatoes and water; bring to boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Briefly mash potatoes in pot, leaving plenty of pieces.

 

Add kale and simmer 5-10 minutes, until wilted. Add scallops and remaining olive oil. Bring to a simmer and adjust seasonings, adding pepper flakes to taste. Serve hot.

 

POTATO CASSEROLE

Makes 12 servings

 

6 to 9 russet potatoes

1/2 cup butter or margarine (divided)

1 10.75-ounce can cream of chicken soup

1 pint dairy or imitation sour cream

1/3 cup chopped green onions

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)

2 cups corn flakes cereal, crushed

 

Bake potatoes in their jackets at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Cool and peel off skins. Shred potatoes.

 

Melt 1/4 cup butter and add cream of chicken soup, sour cream, chopped green onions and cheddar cheese. Fold this mixture into the shredded potatoes and put into a greased 2-quart casserole.

 

Place in 350-degree oven. Bake for 40 minutes. Combine crushed corn flakes with remaining 1/4 cup butter. Sprinkle crumbs over the top of potatoes and bake another 10 minutes.

 

POTATOES DO NOT ABSORB EXCESS SALT

BY ROBERT L. WOLKE

Q When making soup, I accidentally put in too much salt. I've heard that a raw potato will absorb the excess.

 

A Almost everyone has heard that advice, so I decided to test it.

 

I set up an experiment, simmering some raw potato in salty water and analyzing the amounts of salt in the water before and after the potato treatment.

 

The results? There was no change whatsoever in the salt concentrations before and after simmering with the potato. The legendary potato treatment simply doesn't work.

 

 

QUENELLES OF FRESH

ALASKAN SALMON

Serves 6

 

6 egg whites

3 lbs salmon, minced

1 1/4 cups whipping cream

 

2 egg yolks

4 tsp. fish base

 

3-4 cups fish stock*

 

1/2 lb. fresh pasta, preferably tri-colored

Julienne strips green, red yellow bell pepper

Place julienne strips of peppers in medium bowl; cover with cold water. Refrigerate overnight to crisp and curl. Drain well before serving. In medium bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks from, set aside. Place salmon in food processor bowl fitted with metal blade. Process salmon until a paste forms. Add cream, egg yolks and fish base. Process until well blended. Add egg whites; process briefly to keep mixture light. Shape into quenelles (ovals) using 2 to 3 Tbsp. for each. In large sauce pan heat fish stock to a simmer over medium-high heat. Place quenelles in liquid; reduce heat to low. Poach until firm outside and internal temperature reaches 110 degrees. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.

 

Tip: Homemade pasta can be used. Divide pasta recipe into thirds. color one third with pureed beets, second with pureed spinach and remaining third with saffron (soaked in warm water). Roll pasta into sheets; cut into triangles about 1 1/2 inch on a side.

 

QUICK CHOCOLATE BANANA MUFFINS

 

2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

1 cup buttermilk*

1/3 cup oil

1 package banana Quick Bread mix

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 6 oz. pkg. chocolate chips -- 1 cup

2 eggs -- slightly beaten

 

Heat oven to 400°. Grease 14 muffin cups or line with paper baking

cups.**

 

In small saucepan over low heat, melt unsweetened chocolate, stirring

constantly. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of

the oil; blend well.

 

In large bowl, combine quick bread mix and cocoa; mix well. Add

remaining buttermilk, remaining oil, chocolate mixture, chocolate chips

and eggs. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter

into greased muffin cups.

 

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly

touched. Immediately remove from muffin cups. Serve warm or cool.

Yield: 14 muffins

 

Notes : * To substitute for buttermilk, use 1 tablespoon vinegar or

lemon juice plus milk to make 1 cup.

 

** Muffins can be baked in 48 miniature muffin cups. Prepare as

directed above. Bake at 375° for 10 to 14 minutes.

 

ROAST STICKY CHICKEN

1 large chicken -- (roasting)

1 cup onion -- chopped

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

4 teaspoons salt

In a small bowl, thoroughly combine all the spices. Remove giblets from

chicken, clean the cavity well and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the spice

mixture into the chicken, both inside and out, making sure it is evenly

distributed and down deep into the skin. Place in a resealable plastic bag,

seal and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to roast chicken, stuff cavity with onions, and place in a

shallow baking pan. Roast, uncovered, at 250 degrees F for 5 hours. After

the first hour, baste chicken occasionally (every half hour or so) with pan

juices. (It may take awhile to have pan juices) The pan juices will start

to caramelize on the bottom of pan and the chicken will turn golden brown.

If the chicken contains a pop-up thermometer, ignore it. Let chicken rest

about 10 minutes before carving.

 

 

SHRIMP with TOMATO & CREAM SAUCE

 

1 lb Shrimp, peeled, deveined and washed

1 Tbsp Butter

2 Garlic Cloves minced

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 1/2 Tsp. Fresh Tarragon

1/4 Tsp Thyme

 

2 Tomatoes, peeled and quartered

1 Bay leaf

1/2 cup Dry White Wine

1/2 cup Heavy Cream

1 Loaf Fresh French Bread

Tabasco and Pepper to Taste

 

In a large skillet sauté 1 pound of shrimp, shelled and deveined, in 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil, for one minute. Add 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and quartered, 2 garlic cloves mashed with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

 

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1 bay leaf and Tabasco and pepper to taste. Sauté mixture for 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine and simmer the mixture for 1 minute more, or until the shrimp are just tender. Transfer the shrimp with a slotted spoon to a heated platter and keep the shrimp warm.

 

Increase the heat to high and reduce the liquid by half. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and return the mixture to a boil, stirring and simmer the sauce until it is thickened and the tomatoes are tender. Pour the sauce over the shrimp. Serve the Shrimp and Sauce over warm, buttered French bread. You may accompany this delicious dish with a Caesars Salad for the perfect dining experience.

 

SLOW COOKED LAMB CHOPS

1 medium onion -- sliced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 each lamb loin chops

2 cloves garlic -- minced

Place onion in a slow cooker. Combine oregano, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper; rub over the lamb chops. Place chops over onion. Top with garlic. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours or until the meat is tender. Yield: 4 servings.

SOPAIPILLAS

 

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup vegetable oil

 

Combine powdered sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Place flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add butter and process until mixture looks like coarse corn meal. With machine running, slowly pour in water and process until dough just comes together. Add a little water if dough is too dry.

 

Remove dough and knead on lightly floured surface for 5 minutes. Form dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

 

Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Roll out each piece into a 1/8-inch thick round. Cut each round into 4 triangular quarters and set aside.

 

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Place 4 to 6 pieces of dough in the hot oil and fry 1 to 2 minutes. Turn over and fry until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar and serve at once.

 

SPAGHETTI ALLA CHITARRA

WITH POTATOES, SAGE AND GORGONZOLA

Makes 2 entrees or 4 to 6 first-course servings

This recipe is based on a draft version from "Midnight Spaghetti" a soon-to-be-released book by Johanne Killeen and George Germon. Pasta and potatoes may seem unusual, but the two are combined in several variations in Tuscany. (I did not have any potatoes the other night and made this without them. It may not have been authentic Tuscan, but it was delicious anyway.)

 

2 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3 tablespoons butter, cut into small dice

2 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola cheese (about 11/4 ounces)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves (do not use dried)

Kosher salt

8 ounces imported dried spaghetti alla chitarra (long, thin strips)

5 to 6 turns of the pepper mill

 

Bring potatoes to boil in large pot of water (at least 6 quarts). Cook 5 minutes.

In serving bowl large enough to hold pasta, mash butter, gorgonzola and sage with fork.

 

After potatoes have boiled 5 minutes, add 31/2 tablespoons kosher salt to water and drop in spaghetti. Keep at full rolling boil until pasta is tender but firm, about 5 to 6 minutes. (I stir for first 45 seconds to ensure pasta does not stick together.) Drain pasta and potatoes in colander, saving about1/2cup cooking water.

 

Add pasta and potatoes to butter-cheese mixture and gently toss. Grind pepper over pasta, add a few tablespoons cooking water and toss again. Sauce should be glossy with consistency of heavy cream. Add more water, if needed. Serve immediately.

 

SPAGHETTINI WITH SHRIMP

TOMATOES AND PESTO

(Serves 4 to 6)

 

1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and cut into pieces about the size

of a small olive

1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1 pound imported dried spaghettini or spaghetti

2 to 5 tablespoons pesto (make recipe below using very small garlic clove)

 

To make sauce, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and stir quickly until lightly golden, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

 

Put the skillet back over high heat, add the tomatoes and stir until their juices have thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return the shrimp to the skillet, season lightly with salt and stir for about a minute. Taste, adjust the seasoning and turn off the heat.

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the coarse salt and spaghettini and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite.

 

Drain the pasta and place in the skillet with the sauce. Mix quickly over medium heat until the pasta and sauce are well combined. Remove from the heat, add the pesto and toss quickly to distribute it evenly. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve at once.

 

 

 

 

SPAGHETTINI WITH SHRIMP

TOMATOES AND PESTO

(Serves 4 to 6)

 

1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and cut into pieces about the size

of a small olive

1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1 pound imported dried spaghettini or spaghetti

2 to 5 tablespoons pesto (make recipe below using very small garlic clove)

 

To make sauce, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and stir quickly until lightly golden, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

 

Put the skillet back over high heat, add the tomatoes and stir until their juices have thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return the shrimp to the skillet, season lightly with salt and stir for about a minute. Taste, adjust the seasoning and turn off the heat.

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the coarse salt and spaghettini and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite.

 

Drain the pasta and place in the skillet with the sauce. Mix quickly over medium heat until the pasta and sauce are well combined. Remove from the heat, add the pesto and toss quickly to distribute it evenly. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve at once.

 

SPRING BONANZA IN A WORD ASPARAGUS

If you, like me, try to keep your cooking truly seasonal, you get really excited when local asparagus hits the market.

Many think living in California means year-round availability of all things fresh. But to cook seasonally -- which offers the benefit of optimum nutrition, peak flavor and a commitment to locally produced foods -- you can't cook with tomatoes in winter or asparagus in autumn. You either use what is growing close by or the best organic canned, frozen or dried product.

 

Winter is the most challenging time for me and my restaurant kitchens. And so, when we are offered that first box of asparagus from one of our favorite farms, we breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, we can begin using fewer root vegetables, hearty greens and winter squashes. Those first shoots are the beginning, soon to be followed by strawberries, snap peas and baby artichokes.

 

I like asparagus firm, yet softened so the sweet grassy flavor comes out. Many think the tiny spears are the best. But I like the big thick spears, full-flavored, meaty, voluptuous.

 

You can boil asparagus, but why let any flavor escape into the water? I love it grilled, or even roasted. I steam it lightly first, then rub it with olive oil and finish cooking on the grill or in the oven, next to a roast of pork, lamb or chicken.

 

But asparagus is best steamed.

 

I use a double-tiered Japanese steamer for everything, laying a few pounds of asparagus at a time evenly on the tiers. I cut or break off the bottoms of the asparagus spears. Breaking may seem like a lot of waste, but it removes any stringiness.

 

Often, I add aromatic ingredients to the water: a few slices of lemon, orange, sprigs of rosemary or oregano, or slices of onion or garlic. A few tablespoons of very fruity olive oil can somehow seep through the holes and add a touch of flavor. I even add pepper, lemon salt, garlic or herbs to the top of the spears in the steamer.

 

Asparagus is a great diet food. One cup has about 70 calories, is full of vitamins A and C and acts as a natural diuretic and a kidney cleanser.

 

There's no proper way to eat asparagus. Steamed, grilled, roasted, on salads, as a side dish, or without a fork, using your fingers, straight out of the steamer or off the grill.

 

STEAMED ASPARAGUS AND CHICKEN

Serves 4

3 blood oranges ( 1/2 cup fresh juice)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon dried chile flakes

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breasts

12 to 16 asparagus stalks, depending on size

12 to 16 green onions, depending on size

2 cups chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

 

In a large bowl, squeeze oranges. Add olive oil, garlic, mint, chives, chile flakes, brown sugar and salt. Combine.

 

Trim all fat and membranes from chicken. Cut away any tough parts from bottom of asparagus. Cut eight green onions to size of trimmed asparagus. Toss all ingredients with marinade.

 

Bring chicken stock, four green onions and saffron to a boil. Arrange marinated ingredients in a steaming basket or rack over boiling liquid, placing chicken on bottom, asparagus next and green onions on top. Add any remaining juices to cooking liquid. Cover and steam for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout. Remove steamer baskets and set aside.

 

If you want to create a sauce, do not discard steaming liquid, but do remove onions. Increase heat and reduce to about 1/2 cup. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Arrange chicken, asparagus and green onions on plates atop steamed rice or couscous. Pour steaming liquid evenly over chicken and asparagus and garnish with fresh mint or chives.

 

For me, this dish is the essence of springtime. It can be served cold as a first course or salad, or you can keep the asparagus and sauce warm and serve as a side dish with poached or grilled salmon.

 

TUSCAN CHICKEN CAKES

WITH TOMATO-BASIL RELISH

Makes 4 servings

 

Golden Aioli:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons honey mustard

 

Tomato-Basil Relish:

 

1 cup seeded and chopped plum tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped red onion

3 tablespoons (drained) chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons prepared balsamic and oil dressing

1 teaspoon prepared pesto

 

Tuscan Chicken Cakes:

 

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded and chopped

1 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs (divided)

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup prepared pesto

2 teaspoons honey mustard

1/3 cup finely chopped, jarred roasted red peppers, drained

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 5-ounce package mixed salad greens

1/3 cup prepared balsamic vinegar and oil dressing

 

To make aioli: In small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and honey mustard; set aside.

 

To make relish: In small bowl, mix together chopped plum tomatoes, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, dressing and pesto; set aside.

 

To make chicken: In large bowl, mix together chicken,1/2cup of the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, egg, pesto, honey mustard, roasted peppers and red onion.

 

Using a 1/3-cup measure, shape chicken mixture into 8 cakes; lightly coat each with remaining1/2cup bread crumbs. In large nonstick fry pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add chicken cakes and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side; drain on paper towels.

Toss salad greens with dressing and divide among 4 serving plates. Top each with 2 chicken cakes; drizzle with Golden Aioli. Top each cake with dollop of Tomato-Basil Relish.

 

VEGGIE TIPS

Artichokes (mid- to late spring): Boil in salted water with sliced lemon. Cut in half and take out the choke. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and grill gently, brushing with more oil and vinegar, until warmed through. Serve with a garlic mayonnaise and toast points on a bed of radicchio leaves.

 

Asparagus (early to mid-spring): Snap off the tough white stem. Slice stalks in thin diagonal slices and saute in olive oil with basil, garlic and pine nuts. Toss with warm cooked linguine, lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and fresh black pepper. Top with grated asiago or Parmesan cheese.

 

Beets (early to mid-spring): Rub with salad oil and roast covered with foil for one hour. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Peel (you can use rubber gloves to keep your hands from being stained) and make thin circular slices and arrange in a circle on a plate. Make a simple vinaigrette with raspberry vinegar and walnut oil. Toss spring lettuces with the vinaigrette and place in the center of the beet disks. Drizzle beets with vinaigrette and crumble goat cheese and toasted walnuts over the top.

 

Fava beans (late spring): Shell the beans and blanch in salted water for five minutes. Remove outer skin. Saute minced garlic cloves in olive oil until lightly browned and tender. Add the beans, saute for one minute. Season with salt and pepper, puree in a food processor and serve with baked ham or roast pork loin.

 

Green garlic (early to mid-spring): Wash and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Grill over a low fire and chop into medium-sized chunks. Add to cooked risotto or long-grained rice mixed with chopped arugula leaves or spinach. For an entree, mix with a few sauteed prawns or scallops.

 

Peas (late spring): Shell and blanch in salted water until tender, about two minutes. Flash chill in ice water. Warm in a saute pan with peeled, blanched baby carrots and sweet butter. Add fresh chopped chervil and season with salt and pepper.

 

New potatoes (early to mid-spring): Pick the smallest tender potatoes and wash thoroughly. Over low heat, pan roast in a saute pan with a small amount of canola or safflower oil. Add a few sprigs of spearmint or peppermint and cover, shaking the pan often to avoid sticking. When potatoes are tender, add a dollop of fresh butter and season. Serve with spring lamb.

 

Watercress (early to mid-spring): Remove the thickest stems and mix (watercress) with arugula and spinach. Make a vinaigrette of aged sherry vinegar, honey, chopped thyme and virgin olive oil. Mix well and sprinkle with toasted mustard seeds and croutons. Serve before or after meat courses.

 

VIDALIA ONION TART

Serves 8

 

Crust Ingredients

 

1 cup all purpose flour

1 large egg, beaten

2 cups of peach juice

2 tbsp. additional butter

1/8 tsp. salt

1 star anise, cracked

1 stick unsalted butter cut into small pieces

 

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using fingers, work the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. Add the water and egg stirring with a fork until the mixture forms dough. Pat into a cylinder shape, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour. Roll out the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the shell with a fork and place a piece of foil in the pie pan. Fill it with some dried beans and bake in a pre-heated oven at 400f for 25 minutes or until lightly golden in color. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack

 

Filling Ingredients

 

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/4 cup bacon, diced

4 cups Vidalia onions sliced thin

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

freshly ground nutmeg to taste

1 cup whole milk

4 large eggs

2 Tbsp. calvados

2 Tbsp. parsley stems, finely chopped

salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

 

In a non-stick pan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Add the onions and saute until softened. Remove from the heat and let cool.. Pre-heat oven to 400f. In a large bowel, whisk the cream, milk, eggs and calvados. Add the onion mixture and chopped parsley stems. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour the mixture into the tart shell. Place the tart in the oven and reduce the temperature to350f. Bake for 30 minutes.

Turn the oven off and leave the tart in the oven for 20 more minutes. Cut and serve.

 

SHALOM FROM SPIKE & JAMIE



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