Thursday, May 27, 2010

Celery and Fennel Salad

Oh my. What a wonderful way to use fennel. I didn't have parsley when I made this, but I am sure the parsley would taste great. The ingredients I listed as optional are ones I didn't use the first time around.

Curtis and I loved this--so much that I decided to forego ice cream for a Grey's Anatomy snack for this! Yep, it is that good. Really, I don't think I need to use fennel any other way besides this for a long, long time. This supposedly serves 6. I guess that would be true if you ate something else for supper besides this (but we really didn't want to).

Celery and Fennel Salad
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cooking from the Farmer's Market

6 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (preferably with a mandoline)
4 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (optional)
1 c parsley leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)
1/4 c mint, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
6 thin slices of prosciutto
Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, thinly shaved

Put the celery, fennel, green onions, parsley, and mint in bowl and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and the 2 T lemon juice and toss gently. Place the prosciutto in serving platter and top with fennel mixture. Garnish with the shaved cheese and serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chicken Pot Pies

(This is getting republished because somewhere in the web, the recipe disappeared. You will also find a second filling version as well, which still needs a little tweaking and more flavor).

I've discovered a couple of new blogs, one of which is shutterbean. I found a version of this recipe there. I had to laugh though at the cookbook it came out of. This recipe in it's original version evidently is "man food," at least it came out of a cookbook called, Mad Men, Feeding Men and Boys. I didn't know men ate differently than women. I knew my husband used to be a vegetarian and still doesn't enjoy pork because pigs are smart animals. I know he loves a good salad or quiche. I doubt the changes I made to the recipe still qualifies it as "man food."

My changes? I added some mushrooms, kohlrabi (it was starting to multiply in my fridge), and dijon mustard and omitted the dill and the celery from the original recipe. I remembered my biscuit pot pie I made and decided to make the recipe mimic that one a little more. I used some left over cooked chicken I froze after having a rotisserie chicken. You could easily substitute some of Thursday's leftover turkey for the chicken. You could also leave the meat out all together and substitute another vegetable like sweet potatoes, turnips, or potatoes.

Everyone loved this dish. The individual pot pies were rather time consuming. You could also make this with one crust on the bottom and another on top in a pie pan. Curtis claims it's the individual pot pies that make it so "manly," though. The original recipe also said they can be frozen and reheated in the microwave or frozen before baking and bake them whenever you want them. I would like to make a batch of these and freeze the entire thing sometime to have an easy supper in the freezer to pull out as necessary. There is enough dough for 8 - 9 pot pies.

Cream Cheese Pastry
from Shutterbean

1/2 c butter, at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 c heavy whipping cream (or whole milk will do in a pinch)
1 1/2 c plus 2 T flour (plus more for rolling out dough later)
1/2 t salt

Combine the butter, cream cheese, and whipping cream and mix until smooth, using an electric mixer or food processor. Add the flour and salt, process (mix) until dough holds together in a ball. Turn out onto floured surface and divide into 2 pieces. Form balls and then flatten each piece into a 5" disc. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie, version 1
adapted from Shutterbean

1 heaping c shredded chicken
2 T butter
1/2 c onion, chopped

Any combination of vegetables to equal 3 c (go for variety in colors, preferably)
  • 1/3 c celery, chopped
  • 1/3 c carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 c frozen peas
  • 1 c kohlrabi, peeled, diced, and cooked
  • 1 c mushrooms
1/2 t salt
1 t dijon mustard
2 T flour
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c Parmesan cheese

Saute onion in butter in a large nonstick skillet for 3 minutes or so, until onions soften. Add carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms release their juices, about 5 minutes. Add peas and cooked kohlrabi, cook 2 more minutes. Stir in the salt, mustard, and flour and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth and stir until thickened. Stir in shredded chicken and Parmesan cheese. Cool (if it's hot, it will make the pastry very difficult to deal with).

Chicken Pot Pie v. 2 (the not as flavorful, needs more tweaking version)
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved lengthwise, triangular core discarded, and thinly sliced
1 3/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (approx 2 c cooked chicken)
1/2 c carrot, diced
5 T butter
5 T flour
2 1/2 c whole milk
3 T fresh lemon juice
1 t dijon mustard
(1/2 t worcestershire sauce---will add next time for more flavor)
1/4 lb cooked ham, diced into small cubes

Saute fennel in some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until fennel begins to soften. Add the carrots and continue to saute until carrots and fennel are soften. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk and whisk until sauce thickens. Add the lemon juice and salt. Add chicken, carrots and fennel, and ham, Season with dijon, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Cool completely.

To make Pot Pies (for both versions)
1 egg, beaten with 1 T water

Roll out cream cheese pastry on a flour surface. Using an overturned bowl (about 5 inches in diameter), cut out circles. Transfer circles to the side and repeat with second disc and leftover dough (rolling and cutting each disc twice---reserve leftover dough). Place 1/4 - 1/3 c filling in half of each circle. Wet the edges of dough with water. Fold dough over to make a half circle. Pinch the edges of the dough together and crimp with fork (unless you are running short on time and aren't concerned at all with appearances---then you can skip the crimping part). Repeat until all circles are filled. Put leftover filling a small oven proof dish and cover with leftover pastry dough. If you have time, chill for a few minutes. Right before baking, brush the egg wash (1 egg plus 1 T water) over each pot pie).

Bake in preheated 375 degrees oven for 20 - 25 minutes (for version 1) or 40 minutes (for version 2), or until golden brown (If you skip the egg wash, the golden brown won't happen). Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

You can also cool and freeze the pot pies for a quick lunch/snack/dinner at a later time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gnocchi with Tomato, Basil, and Olives

Gnocchi. Oh, be still my beating heart.

I love gnocchi. Some day, I will be bold and attempt to make homemade gnocchi (once I have a potato ricer). Until then, I'll buy the packages of dried gnocchi in the store and be more than content.

I made this recipe in the easiest way possible. I used already made pasta sauce and packaged gnocchi. The recipe went together very quickly and was great, easy weeknight meal. The kids and I really enjoyed it. Curtis doesn't love gnocchi. I do though. He's stuck. This will serve only 3 (maybe 4 at the most) people.

Gnocchi with Tomato, Basil, and Olives
adapted from Lidia's Italian Table

2 T butter
1/2 c large green olives, pitted and just barely chopped
1 1/2 c tomato or pasta sauce
1 package gnocchi (8 oz, I believe)
1/2 c Parmesan, freshly grated
5 basil leaves, shredded
salt and black pepper, to taste

In a lg skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the olives and cook, stirring, until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook the gnocchi according to package directions in a large pot of boiling water over high heat. Return the sauce to a simmer over low heat. Add the cooked gnocchi and stir gently with a wooden spoon until coated. Stir in the grated cheese and basil. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Broccoli Garlic Quiche

Ok, this tasted great, but I totally butchered the pie crust, thus no picture. I think for the first time ever, I had a pie crust that ended up oblong in the pan. Very sad indeed. It was one of those things that as I was making the crust, I just knew it wasn't going to turn out like I wanted it to. Sure enough---pathetic pie crust.

It tasted great though! We enjoyed this and it made a great breakfast leftover the next day too. This will serve 4 - 6 adults as a main course. Be sure to allow yourself 20 minutes of cooling time before serving this.

Broccoli Garlic Quiche
from Gourmet

1 9-inch pie crust (large enough to fit in a deep dish pie plate or fluted tart pan)

2 large garlic cloves
6 lg eggs
1 1/2 c half and half
1/4 t grated nutmeg
1/4 t cayenne or milder chili powder
2 c Swiss or cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 c Parmesan, grated

Roll pie dough into a 13" round. Fit into pie plate or tart pan, letting excess hang over edge. Fold overhang inward and press against side of pie plate to reinforce edge. Prick bottom all over with fork. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Line pie shell with foil and fill with pie weights of dried beans. Bake in preheated 425 oven for 10 minutes, or until pastry is set and edge is pale golden. Remove foil and weights. Bake an additional 8 - 10 minutes, or until shell is a deep golden all over. Remove from oven. (Reduce oven temp to 375 degrees).

While pie crust pre-bakes, cook broccoli in a pot of boiling salted water 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Pat dry. Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a generous pinch of salt. Whisk together garlic paste, eggs, half-and-half, nutmeg, cayenne, and 1/4 t slat in a large bowl until smooth. Pour filling into pie shell. Add broccoli, then sprinkle with cheese. Bake in preheated 375 degrees oven until custard is set, 45 - 50 minutes. The center should tremble slightly. The filling will continue to set as it cools). Cool at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dandelion Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

I suspect now that I am finally sharing this recipe all the dandelion greens are done with for the season. Next spring, come back to this recipe. It is awesome.

A little background. My Grandma is Mennonite (most of my family is Mennonite, in fact) from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She was a farmer's wife for years until they moved to Virginia to live with one of her daughters. My memories of her are ingrained with the family farm, with a garden large enough to help stock three families at one point. She had asparagus, strawberries, and lots of sweet corn (and all the other regular things like peas, green beans, lima beans, beets, get the idea). My family would travel to Pennsylvania to help with the produce throughout the summer and for her annual corn roast which included her two sisters and their large extended families. Aaah. Good times.

This recipe comes from her. Back when she was doing all her own cooking, she could make wonderful "farmhouse" meals. She helped publish a fundraiser cookbook. Her cooking ranged from homemade candies (including divinity) to simple weeknight suppers like blueberries and bread soaked in milk (which was documented in her local newspaper as her meal when there was a gas explosion on their farm--not their doing at all--long, unrelated story).

This is one of her simple recipes. I've heard about it for years, but called her for the recipe just yesterday. I'd searched online for a recipe, but the ones I found were very different than this one--usually containing shallots and no eggs. I tried the others one and thought this couldn't be the famous dressing I'd heard about. Sure enough, they weren't even close. Curtis and I both agreed this was the best possible way to eat not so tender dandelion greens--and we both enjoyed it. I used about 1/2 the dressing over my bunch of dandelion greens. Add enough dressing to suit your likes. Reserve remaining dressing in the refrigerate and gently heat before serving.

So, without further ado, I present Dandelion Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing.

Dandelion Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Recipe, from my Grandma

1 qt Dandelion Greens
1/4 lb bacon
2 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c water

Wash and tear dandelion greens into pieces. Place in serving bowl. Cook bacon until crispy. Reserve 1 T of bacon grease in skillet. Drain bacon and crumble. In a bowl, beat eggs. Stir in sugar, apple cider vinegar, and water. Heat skillet with bacon grease over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and heat, stirring regularly, until slightly thickened, being careful not to scramble the eggs (which would occur if you cook the eggs too long). If you accidentally scramble a little of the eggs, put dressing through sieve.

Pour hot dressing over dandelion greens. Toss. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Yes, I've been cooking the past week and a half. It's been a little crazy at our house though, as usual. Between being out of town, having an out of town guest stay with us, two kids with strep throat, preschool graduation, Mother's Day, and a birthday, I've gotten behind on posting. Really, I am going to try to do better, especially since the season is changing and I have new recipes to post!

Swiss chard is finally coming on strong. I've made some favorite recipes like Swiss Chard Tart and Lasagna Style Baked Ziti. I've also found some new recipes, one of my favorite being this one.

This is a slightly fussy recipe. The recipe calls for the dish to be made in souffle dish and then inverted onto a platter to be served, making it resemble the leaning town of pasta. I did that this time. It was interesting and looked kinda rustic Italian. I won't do it next time though. I will cook it in a round, tall casserole dish, but I'll skip inverting it, serving it out of the dish instead. It is an all afternoon type of dish, but it's worth it. Most of the stuff you could do ahead of time or start and walk away from for a while. This makes 6 - 8 servings easily.

We all liked this and I think it's a rather great way to use chard.

adapted slightly from Gourmet

Meat Sauce
1 1/2 T olive oil
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage (casings removed if in links)
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/4 t salt
1 T tomato paste
1/2 c dry red wine
1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes
pinch of sugar

For chard in bechamel sauce
1 lb Swiss chard, ribs removed, and leaves coarsely chopped (4 c)
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T all-purpose flour
1 c milk (whole works best)
1/4 t salt
pinch of pepper
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 c Parmesan, finely grated

3/4 lb ziti
4 oz mozzarella, grated

To make the meat sauce: Heat oil in 12" skillet over medium high heat until hot. Saute sausage, breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add onion and bay leaf. Saute, stirring frequently, until onion begins to brown, 5 - 7 minutes. Add carrot, celery and salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, one minute. Add wine and deglaze by boiling, scraping browned bits off bottom of the pan, until most of the liquid is evaporated, 1 -2 minutes. Add tomato puree and sugar and boil, stirring frequently until thickened, 8 - 10 minutes. Cool sauce and discard bay leaf.

While sauce cooks, cook pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water until al dente (according to package directions). Transfer with skimmer to a colander to drain (don't rinse), reserving cooking water in pot to cook chard. Spread pasta on a cookie sheet and cool until warm.

To make the chard in bechamel sauce: Add chard to the pot of reserved pasta water an simmer, uncovered, until tender, 3- 5 minutes. Transfer with skimmer to a bowl of ice water. Drain chard and squeeze handfuls. Finely chop. Heat butter in a 1 1/2- 2 qt heavy saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides. Add garlic and cook, whisking, one minute, being careful not to burn garlic. Add flour and cook, whisking, one minute. Add milk in a slow stream, whisking. Bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until sauce has slightly thickened. Stir in chard, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 2 T Parmesan. Remove from heat.

To assemble and bake: Oil a 2 qt or so casserole dish with tall sides and line bottom with a round of parchment paper, then oil parchment. (Skip the parchment paper step if you don't plan to invert it). Cover bottom of dish with a single layer of pasta. Sprinkle 1/2 c mozzarella and 3 T Parmesan over pasta. Spoon half of meat sauce in an even layer over cheese. Arrange 1/3 of remaining pasta over meat sauce in dish, top with all of the chard/bechamel sauce, then another layer of pasta (about 1/2 of the remainder). Sprinkle with remainder of cheese, then spoon remaining meat sauce over cheese. Top with remaining pasta. Cover dish with a lightly oiled piece of foil.

Fill a large pan (I used a roasting pan) about an inch or so up with water. Place timballo into pan. Bake timballo in water bath in a preheated 375 degrees oven for about 1 hour. Remove from water bath and let stand, covered for 15 minutes. Remove foil. If inverting, run a knife around the edge to loosen timballo. Invert onto a platter. Remove souffle dish and parchment.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Scallion and Cheese Muffins

Have I mentioned how much I love this batch of library cookbooks? Yep. Willliams-Sonoma cookbooks officially ROCK!! I've been cooking out of these as much as possible lately so I can try all the recipes that look before I have to return them in another week (I've already renewed the baking cookbook once).

These muffins are terrific. They taste like something you would get a restaurant, you know which ones I am talking about--they are often called "Country Herb Muffins" or something like that. (Ok, so restaurant is used loosely as I am thinking of one of those salad/buffet only places).

We loved them. Next fall or spring when we are wallowing in scallions, I will make these again (and again and again!)

Scallion and Cheese Muffins
slightly adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

5 T olive oil
1/4 c finely chopped onion
1/4 - 1/2 c finely chopped scallions, white and light green parts only
3 c flour
1 1/2 c Swiss Cheese
3 T fresh parsley, minced
4 t baking powder
1 1/2 t salt
1 t dried oregano
2 lg eggs
1 c milk

Heat 3 T oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and scallions and saute until translucent, 2 -3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. In a bowl, stir together the flour, cheese, parsley, baking powder, salt, and oregano. In a 2 c measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, and 2 T oil until blended. Add the cooled onions (and any oil left in the pan). Make a well in the center of the floor mixture and stir in the milk/onion mixture just until everything is evenly moistened. (It's ok if the batter is lumpy). Spoon the batter evenly into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch, 25 - 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, remove from muffin cups. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thai-style Stir Fry

This is another recipe from the Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. I adapted this one slightly to include some of the carrots accumulating in my refrigerator. The carrots added a nice color and flavor.

M and J weren't too fond of this, I am not quite sure why because it had two of M's favorite things in it; snow peas and tofu. Little I, Curtis, and myself rather enjoyed it though. Despite the big 2 not liking this, I think I will make it again--this seems to be recipe they should like, so maybe next time, they will.

This serves 4 - 6 people. I made some udon noodles to serve this with and it was wonderful!

Thai-style Stir Fry
from The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook

1/4 c peanut butter
2 T soy sauce
2 T lime juice
1/3 c water
2 t sesame oil
2 T cornstarch
1/2 t red pepper flakes (optional)
12 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 -4 carrots (depending on size of carrot), sliced
1/2 lb snow peas, ends trimmed and strings pulled
8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
1 lb firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 c cilantro, chopped

In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce and lime juice until smooth. Add water, sesame oil, cornstarch and red pepper flakes, if using, and whisk until blended. Set aside.

Heat a couple of T of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and carrots and stir-fry until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the snow peas and continue to stir-fry until peas are crisp-tender, about 2 - 3 more minutes. Add the peanut butter sauce, water chestnuts and tofu and stir-fry until sauce thickens slightly and tofu is heated through.

Serve on top of rice or noodles. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Saffron and Golden Raisin Pilaf

We had this with our pineapple glazed chicken. Little I and I loved the flavors. I've discovered that while I can't tolerate normal raisins cooked in anything, golden raisins are quite good. Granted, I'm probably crazy and it probably all tastes the same, but I really think they are better. Both M and J ate some of this, but not quite as enthusiastically as Little I and me.

This doesn't take much longer than plain white rice to make, but it has so much more flavor. I'll definitely make this again. This serves 6 people.

Saffron and Golden Raisin Pilaf
from The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 c white rice
1 c vegetable broth (or water)
2 c water
1/2 t ground pepper
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground allspice (optional)
1/2 c golden raisins
1/4 c dried currants (optional)
a pinch of saffron threads
2 T pine nuts, roasted

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the broth (if using), water, pepper, cinnamon, and allspice. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Stir in the raisins, currants (if using), crumbled saffron, and 1 T pine nuts. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Fluff rice with fork and serve hot. Garnish with remaining pine nuts.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pineapple-Glazed Chicken

This is another find from one of my library cookbooks--The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. I served this to the kids (Curtis was out of town with work) and they loved it. Curtis even liked the leftovers when he ate them a couple of days later. I served this with Saffron-Raisin Pilaf.

This makes 6 servings. The recipe recommends about 2 - 2 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, but I am sure you can use whatever cut of chicken you are partial too (however, use weight to judge the amount of substitutions). Also, be sure to remove the ginger slices before serving. Biting down into the ginger isn't necessarily a very delicious thing.

Pineapple-Glazed Chicken
from Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook

6 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed, visible fat trimmed (about 2 - 2 1/2 lbs)
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, and cut into 1/4" thick slices
2/3 c pineapple juice
2 T soy sauce
1 T sesame seeds
1 c pineapple chunks
3 green onions, thinly sliced, including green portions

Heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and ginger and cook until the chicken is browned on both sides, turning chicken every few minutes, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the pineapple juice and soy sauce. Pour into pan with chicken and bring to a boil. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Uncover and add the sesame seeds and pineapple chunks. Cover and continue cooking, turning chicken occasionally, until the chicken is opaque and the liquid in pan has reduced to a glaze, about 5 - 10 minutes.

To serve, put chicken and pineapple on platter. Spoon glaze over top chicken and garnish with green onions.