Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup

 Here’s one of the first recipes that I pull out in Fall. It’s a simple slightly sweet & sour soup, not to heavy, and perfect as the weather cools. I use good pastured pork sausages for this soup. I also use my homemade (or purchased, unpasteurized) sauerkraut to add probiotics and gut health, It gets me ready for flu season.

Here’s one of the first recipes that I pull out in Fall. It’s a simple slightly sweet & sour soup, not to heavy, and perfect as the weather cools. I use good pastured pork sausages for this soup. I also use my homemade (or purchased, unpasteurized) sauerkraut to add probiotics and gut health, It gets me ready for flu season.

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 Tbls lard, or olive oil

  • 1 Lbs (4 inks) Polish or German Bratwurst Sausages, sliced on the diagonal into ½ inch coins

  • 2 medium leeks, sliced 1/4”, washed and drained

  • 1 qt. chicken or beef stock or broth

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • 14 oz. can or 1 to 2 cups *sauerkraut

  • 1 cup or more each sliced carrots and diced celery or celery root

  • 4 medium waxy potatoes, cubed

  • 1 pint (or 14 oz can) peeled whole plum tomatoes, crush by hand with the juice

  • 1 Tbls. organic cane sugar

  • 1 Tbls red wine or balsamic vinegar (optional, see directions)

  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

To serve (optional): whole milk yogurt or sour cream and minced parsley or chives and some good German bread & grass-fed, unsalted butter!

  1. Heat the fat in a heavy bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the sausages and sauté until lightly browned. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  2. Drain all but one tablespoon of the fat. If using pastured pork sausage, save it for another use like frying potatoes otherwise, discard the fat.

  3. Add the leeks, cover and “sweat” the leeks until they are limp and translucent.

  4. Uncover and add the stock, bay leaf, crushed tomatoes and their juice, celery, carrots and sugar. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

  5. Add the cubed potato and sausage and simmer without a lid just until the potatoes are cooked but firm, 15 to 20 minutes.

  6. Taste for seasoning. The soup should be slightly “sweet and sour”. Depending on your tomatoes, it might need the vinegar to add a sour note. Add the vinegar if needed. I always do.

  7. Add the sauerkraut and heat through.

  8. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkle of chives or parsley

*The sauerkraut:

  • If using purchased, canned kraut, drain the kraut and add it with the carrots and celery so that it will soften and the flavor with meld into the soup.

  • If using raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut, in order to preserve the probiotics, drain the kraut and save the brine. Add it just long enough to warm through and become slightly tender. Turn off the heat and add the reserved salt bring instead of salt if needed.

Autumn Fig, Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake

 This simple stir-cake is my favorite cake for late summer and fall. Using heirloom wheat or spelt gives the cake a delicately earthy flavor and is delicious with olive oil though melted butter can be substituted. The figs flavor intensifies when baked and almost tastes like fig leather.

This simple stir-cake is my favorite cake for late summer and fall. Using heirloom wheat or spelt gives the cake a delicately earthy flavor and is delicious with olive oil though melted butter can be substituted. The figs flavor intensifies when baked and almost tastes like fig leather.

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For best outcome, everything should be room temperature including eggs and yogurt before you begin.

8 servings or 12 muffins

  • 1 cup heirloom, spelt, or whole wheat  flour

  • 3/4 cup ground almonds

  • 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon and cardamom

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 3/4 to 1 cup organic sugar

  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or kefir

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp orange flower water (optional)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1 basket fresh green or purple figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise

  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts, optional

  • Sweetened crème fraîche to serve with cake (optional)

A 9-inch cast iron skillet,  cake pan with removable bottom, or standard muffin tin with paper liners

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F and line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper or put cupcake liners in cupcake tin.

  2. In a bowl to fit the dry ingredients, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt well.

  3. In a medium bowl, put the sugar, spices and lemon zest. Working with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar to release the lemon oil. Massage until the sugar is moist and aromatic.

  4. Add the yogurt or kefir, eggs, vanilla and orange flower water to the bowl and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well blended.

  5. Whisk in half of the dry ingredients until smooth. Now add the remaining flour and the walnuts and with a spatula, stir and fold in the remaining flour just until blended.

  6. Scrape the batter into the pan, smooth the top and place the figs on the batter gently, cut side up in a pattern. If using the muffin tins, place two or three fig halves on each filled cup.

  7. For the cake, bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack, cool. If using the cake pan, cool for 10 minutes, run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and un-mold to cool right-side up.

  8. For the muffins, bake for 18-24 minutes, testing with a toothpick at 18 minutes.

Serve cake with a little sweetened crème fraîche

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Very adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan





About Polenta

 Yellow Polenta with Grilled Summer Vegetables

Yellow Polenta with Grilled Summer Vegetables

Polenta is a delicious (gluten free) starch for every season. I love it

  • In summer with grilled vegetables and fish.

  • In Fall, with roasted winter squash, wild mushrooms and quick braised sausage.

  • In Winter with braised meats and greens.

Choosing polenta in the words of Viola Buitoni

At our Cooking From the Summer Garden Weekend Getaway with Viola Buitoni in August, we had a delicious polenta evening. Below are Viola’s thoughts on the types of polenta ~

From Viola:

“There are four different kinds of polenta with which all have space in my heart and pantry. The classic yellow one, whole wheat, white and taragna.

White is the most delicate and lends itself well to decisive and refined flavors with underlying sweetness: fish and seafood, spices and nutty, delicate cheeses. It is generally milled to an even slightly finer ground.

Yellow is a jack-of-all-trades and can successfully espouse a range of flavors: from sweet, to rustic, to acid, to spicy. The mill of it, more than the flavor, will determine your selection. A finer mill (fioretto) is more suitable to a sweeter more fragrant sauce-like mushrooms for example, while a coarser (bramata) grind will hold up well to a long braise, with a red wine base and dark meat. In Italy, one can also find a mill grade called fumetto, a very fine polenta typically used in pastry.

Whole wheat polenta has a nuttier, woodsy flavor that goes well with stinky cheeses, spicy sauces, sweet nuts and butter.

Taragna, which has a percentage of buckwheat in it. I like it with creamy aged and blue cheeses, and redolent vegetables in the cabbage family.”

Cooking Polenta

1 cup polenta yields about 6 heaping 1/2 cup servings

Depending on how you will serve polenta, proportions of dry polenta to liquid should be:

  • For a dry / firm polenta that you will chill then slice: 1 part dry polenta to 3 parts liquid

  • For a wet / creamy polenta:  1 part dry polenta to 4 or 5 parts liquid

  • The liquid can be water, vegetable or meat stock or broth. Milk can also be used or added with water to create a creamy polenta or to make cheesy grits.

  1. Bring the liquid to a boil and salt to taste. You should be able to taste a faint taste of salt.

  2. With a wooden spoon in hand, slowly pour the polenta into the boiling liquid in a slow, steady stream, stirring all the while to keep the polenta from clumping.

  3. Continue stirring until the polenta begins to boil then turn the heat down to a simmer. At this point, the polenta should just puff little bursts of steam. You don’t want it to boil as the polenta will burst out of the pot and can burn.

  4. Continue stirring until the polenta off and on for about 20 minutes or until it is creamy with a bit of texture. You can add a splatter guard or loosely place a lid over the polenta.

  5. Add liquid towards the end if a runnier consistency is desired.

  6. If desired, add a knob of unsalted butter, more salt and white pepper.

Three Berry Streusel Pie

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Berry pie is a summer tradition and has to be made at least once during berry season. It’s coming to the end of summer but beautiful berries are still at the farmers market. If you use ripe organic or homegrown berries, cut the sugar to one cup or less. Some sugar is needed however, to create a syrupy sauce. This pie is also pretty tasty for breakfast with yogurt or kefir.

Makes One 9-inch pie

  • One recipe single crust pie dough (see my Butter and/or Lard Pie Dough recipe below)

  • One recipe streusel or granola topping below

  • 6 cups fresh strawberries, halved or quartered

  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

  • 1 cup raspberries or blackberries, fresh or frozen

  • 1 ½ cups (or less) sugar

  • 5 Tbls quick cook tapioca

  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Streusel Topping

  • 2 cups flour of choice

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted or coconut oil

Granola Topping

  • 1 cup granola

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat

  • 1/2 brown sugar

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1/2 unsalted butter, melted or coconut oil

To make the pie:

  1. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow the disc to set on the counter for 10 minutes.

  2. Make either crumble by blending all of the dry ingredients using whichever recipe you choose, streusel or granola. Add the melted butter or oil and blend to combine. Set aside.

  3. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to a 15-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Trim the dough overhang to one inch. Fold the overhang underneath itself and crimp decoratively, forming a high-standing rim.

  4. Freeze crust 20 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 375˚f.

  6. In a bowl large enough for the fruit, mix berry filling ingredients and set aside.

  7. Remove crust from the freezer and spoon the filling into crust.

  8. Using your hands, sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Squeeze some of the topping in your hands to create different sizes of “clumps”, large, medium and small. Crumble topping evenly over filling.

  9. Bake until the filling is bubbling and clear rather than opaque and the topping is golden brown, about 45 to 55 minutes. Cover loosely with a sheet of foil if topping browns too quickly.

  10. Transfer pie to rack and cool for at least 3 hours.

Lard or Butter Pie Dough

Makes one 9-inch pie. Double the recipe for a two crust pie.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup cold rendered leaf lard or unsalted butter, cold

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. sugar (for a sweet pie, optional)

  • 1/4 cup ice cold water

  • 1 tsp. white vinegar

  1. In a small bowl, mix the water and vinegar which helps to keep the gluten from developing and makes a tender crust.

  2. Mix one cup of the flour, salt and sugar, if using, together lightly in a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor.

  3. Add the lard in chunks and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or by pulsing the food processor. The mixture should look like large crumbs and begin to cling together in clumps.

  4. Add the remaining ½ cup of flour and mix lightly or pulse the processor two or three times. Do not over mix this flour. At this point if using a food processor, remove the flour/fat mixture to a medium bowl.

  5. Sprinkle the water over the dough and with hands or a wooden spoon, mix the dough just until the dough holds together. Loosley form it into a disk, wrap in wax paper, and chill for one hour or more.

Notes:

  • You can also use all butter or half butter and half lard which makes a sturdier dough for things like slab pies, tarts or hand pies.



Eggplant Caponata

 Eggplant Caponata epitomizes summer. The eggplant sops up the olive oil so use a good one. The dish is layered and made rich with salty and sweet notes. It's perfect served at room temperature as an appetizer but also delicious on burgers, over grilled meats and chicken, or layered in a sandwhich. Makes about 3-4 cups

Eggplant Caponata epitomizes summer. The eggplant sops up the olive oil so use a good one. The dish is layered and made rich with salty and sweet notes. It's perfect served at room temperature as an appetizer but also delicious on burgers, over grilled meats and chicken, or layered in a sandwhich. Makes about 3-4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup good quality, extra virgin olive oil, possibly more
  • 2 Lbs eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 Tbls tomato paste, thinned in ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
  • 6 oz. green olives, sliced or roughly chopped (stuffed olives are good too)
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup capers
  • 2 to 3 Tbls sugar or to taste
  • 2 Tbls finely grated unsweetened chocolate
  • ½ cup basil, sliced thinly
  • 2 to 4 Tbls pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.

To Make:

  1. Heat one third of the oil and add one third of the eggplant. Fry, tossing occasionally, until browned, 3–4 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to a large bowl; set aside.
  3. Finish the remaining eggplant in two batches using more oil if needed. Don’t be afraid to allow the eggplant to absorb the oil, it will add to the dish!
  4. Lightly salt the eggplant to taste.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add oil if needed to the pan and sauté the onions until slightly caramelized. A pinch of sugar can help the process.
  6. Add the tomato paste - water mixture and cook, stirring, until caramelized and almost evaporated, 1–2 minutes.
  7. Add the crushed tomatoes and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Stir in olives, vinegar, raisins, capers, sugar, and chocolate, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.
  9. Transfer to the bowl with the eggplant. Cool.
  10. Add the basil and pine nuts and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and let cool to room temperature before serving.

Spicy Caramel-Glazed Meatballs with Peanuts, Pickled Vegetables, Basil & Fried Shallots

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Spicy Caramel-Glazed Meatballs with Peanuts, Pickled Vegetables, Basil & Fried Shallots ~ 

Serves 6

These slightly spicy meatballs make a great appetizer. Use decorative skewers and sprinkle the meatballs with the garnishes. The caramel will help the garnishes to stick to the meatballs. They're also a fun dinner served over cooked rice noodles and served with quick sautéd vegetables.

Pork Meatballs:

  • 1 Lbs ground pork (20% fat)
  • 2 tsp potato or corn starch
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbls water
  • 1 Tbls toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbls Sriracha
  • 4 scallions, minced
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbls coconut oil or other high heat cooking oil

Spicy Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup sugar, see below to replace sugar with honey
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 Tbls lime juice
  • 2 Tbls fish sauce
  • 2 Thai chilies, thinly sliced

Pickles: Fermented vegetables can repack these pickles and would also be delicious.

  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 8 oz daikon, peeled
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Garnishes, choose one or all:

 

  • 2-3 Tbls toasted coconut flakes
  • 3 Tbls toasted peanuts, chopped
  • Thinly sliced Thai or Italian basil
  • Fried shallots (found in the grocery store Asian section)
  • Cooked rice noodles

Make the pickles:

  1. Cut the vegetables into long matchsticks. You can also use a mandoline or Cuisinart with the matchstick or shredding attachment.

  2. Place the cut vegetables in a colander and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, massage lightly and let them sit for 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add the sugar, salt, vinegar, and water and simmer just long enough to melt the sugar. Cool.

  4. Rinse the vegetables and place them in a small heat-proof container or mason jar. Pour the pickling liquid over the vegetables. Cool and then chill. Pickles can be made the day before.

Make the meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the starch, salt, baking soda, water, sesame oil, hot sauce, scallions, and garlic together until combined.

  2. Place the pork in a bowl and add the seasoning mixture. Blend quickly, just enough to well combine the the prok with the seasoning. Don’t overmix; the fat will melt and the meatballs will have a tough texture. This can also be done in the bowl of a pre-chilled mixing bowl with a paddle attachment or a pre-chilled food processor bowl with blade attachment. Stop mixing as soon as ingredients are blended together.

  3. Chill the pork mixture for 30 minutes to an hour (or more) before cooking.

  4. Form the pork into heaping 1-inch balls, and place onto a pan lined with parchment and chill for 10 minutes before cooking.

Cooking the meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl combine the lime juice, fish sauce, and thai chilies. Set aside.

  2. *Make the caramel by putting the sugar and water in a clean, grease-free saucepan.

  3. Heat on low to dissolve the sugar, stirring. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to melt any sugar crystals. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium high and stop stirring.

  4. Allow the sugar to caramelize gently swirling the pan occasionally. It should caramelize to a medium amber.

  5. Very slowly stir in the lime, chili mixture.

  6. Let the caramel reduce until lightly syrupy and strain it through a fine mesh metal sieve into a small bowl.

  7. Heat a clean sauté pan on medium high heat and add the coconut oil.

  8. Sear the meatballs just to brown and then drizzle them with the caramel sauce. Continue cooking the meatballs, spooning the caramel over the meatballs, until browned and crispy on the outside and cooked though in the middle.

*To replace the sugar:

  1. Substitute 3 Tbls. of honey for the sugar. Add the honey, lime juice, fish sauce, and thai chili to the pan with the meatballs once they have browned. The dish won’t have the same sticky caramazed affect but will have the sweetness.

  2. Use fermented vegetables instead of the pickled vegetables.

To serve: Brush the top of pork meatballs with more of the coconut caramel. Drain the pickles well and sprinkle over the meatballs, along with the peanut, coconut flakes, and basil.

 

 

 

Springtime Herb Sauces

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Spring is the season for green and that includes herbs. In Spring the "leafy herbs" such as basil, cilantro, chives, and parsley are bursting forth. "Woody herbs" such as thyme or sage are best saved for longer cooking winter dishes. 

Herb sauces are a fantastic way to get loads of rich, raw nutrients into a meal. I sneak probiotics in by using miso or brine from fermented vegetables or sauerkraut; just a tablespoon or two will do. Place a bowl of any of these sauces on the table with dinner. They add freshness and flavor to baked potatoes, as a dip for veggies, as a sandwich spread, over pasta, or as a marinade or sauce to any protein. 

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Tips:

  • Try not to by herbs at chain markets where you get a few sprigs in a plastic shell for a high price. I buy herbs at the farmer's market or neighborhood Meditteranean markets. These cultures use herbs as a vegetable, not a garnish so herbs in these stores are ussually inexpensive and fresh. 
  • Most herbs can be rinsed and spun dry in a salad spinner and wrapped in paper towel to wick away extra moisture. Keep in the vegetable bin. Don't rinse basil until ready to use. It will bruise and brown.
  • Use the stems. Cilantro pesto or delicious and use can use stem and all. Tougher stems like large basil stem should not be used but the stem close to the leaf is tender. In other words don't be to picky when picking the leaves from the stem.
  • Blend herbs; herbs grown in the same season go together well in sauces so use up those half bunches by making a sauce.
  • These sauces freeze well. Make a batch, use some for dinner, freeze the rest in small containers. That way you can pull out just enough for dinner.

Recipes:

Salsa Verde ~ Delicious as a dip or sauce with with prawns, chicken, grilled meats and cooked vegetables.

  • 1/4 cup pickled capers, rinsed or salted capers, soaked for ½ hour and rinsed
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained (leave out if serving with prawns)
  • 3 garlic cloves, split lengthwise and green sprout removed
  • 1 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup each coarsely chopped arugula, parsley, basil & cilantro
  • 1/4 cup each coarsely chopped tarragon or 1 tsp. Dried and coarsely chopped chives

In a mortar or on a cutting board, smash the garlic and add the capers and anchovies. Mash until the mixture forms a paste forms. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in half of the olive oil. Stir in the herbs and and the remaining olive oil to taste depending on the thickness you’d like.

Green Herb Pesto ~ Use as you would traditional pesto over pasta or as a sauce.

  • 2 cloves garlic, split lengthwise and green sprout removed
  • 2 cups packed fresh leafy herbs such as basil, cilantro, arugula, parsley, or a mixture (no mint)
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nuts: pine nuts, walnuts, almonds or pistachios (toasted if you like)
  • 1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice or 1 pinch (1/8 tsp.) Vitamin C powder
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

With a food processor or blender running, drop the garlic in and allow to mince. Add the herbs, nuts, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Plus just enough to blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Chermoula, a Moroccan sauce that is delicious as a marinade for chicken or spooned over fresh grilled fish. Keep it slightly chuncky, not pureed.

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • ½ bunch parsley, tops only
  • 3 garlic cloves, split lengthwise and green sprout removed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds*
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika or ½ tsp hot paprika
  • 1/4 preserved lemon, pulp discarded, rinsed, and rind coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • About ½ cup good quality olive oil

In a small skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds over low heat, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and grind the seend with a pinch of salt until fairly well ground. In a food processor or blender, mince the garlic and then add the herbs, spices, preserved lemon, and  1 Tbls. lemon juice. While the machine is on, slowly pour in olive oil until desired consistency is reached. I like this sauce to be slightly course. Adjust seasoning.

Carrot-Top Pesto ~ The carrot family Umbelliferae consist of anise, dill, celery, parsley, cilantro and coriander, to name a few. Families pair well together when prepared in a dish. Use “sister” herbs to add more depth to this pesto. Use as you would pesto or drizzle over steamed carrots (hot or cold) or, roasted sweet vegetables.

  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, split lengthwise and green sprout removed
  • 2 cups carrot leaves, no stems
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts or almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fresh “sister” herbs above such as cilantro, dill, or parsley or use basil
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil

Pulse garlic and nuts in a food processor or blender until a coarse paste forms. Add the carrot tops, herbs, Parmesan and process into a coarse purée. Add olive oil in a steady stream while machine is running until combined; season with salt and pepper.

Fermented Green Sauce ~ Here’s another green sauce with a probiotic boost, miso. To keep the probiotics alive, don’t heat it but rather toss the sauce with cooked foods. It’s a yummy dip, sandwich spread or drizzled over cooked vegetables.

  • 1 small bunch each cilantro, parsley and chives
  • A ½ to 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (optional; it adds a distinctive spice)
  • Juice of one or 2 fresh lemons, limes, or both or 1 Tbls. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbls. white miso
  • 2 Tbls. tahini
  • ¼ cup or more good quality olive oil
  • 1 Tbls. honey (optional)

Pulse or blend everything in a blender or food processor. Season to taste. Add more olive oil (or a bit of water) for a thinner consistency.

 

 

Stuffed Artichokes ~ Two Ways

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Spring brings us big, beautiful artichokes which I love to stuff and serve as a first course or entree. Here are two of my favorite versions. Italian Sausage Stuffed Artichokes and Anchovy & Pine Nut Stuffed Artichokes.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Artichokes ~ Serves 6 ~ This is a meal! Add a salad using bitter greens like arugula with good red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

  • 6 medium to large artichokes, rinsed
  • ½ lemon
  • 4 Tbls olive oil, halved
  • 1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs, I like to us good sourdough whole wheat; nuts and seeds are fine
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage or raw links, split and casing removed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbls each fresh mince oregano and parsley (or 1 tsp. each dried) You can also substitute ¼ cup minced fresh basil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth, white wine or water
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (optional)

To cook artichokes for both recipes:

  1. Rinse the artichokes. Slice about ¾-inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke using a serrated knife. Next, cut off the tips of the petals using scissors and remove the small petals at the base. Last, cut off the stem so that the artichoke can sit flat. Reserve the stem. Rub the artichoke with the cut lemon.
  2. Steam the artichokes. If desired, add a few aromatic bay leaves, sliced garlic, sprigs of thyme, etc. to the water before steaming the artichokes. For this recipe, steam until almost done but not quite tender, between 20 and 35 minutes depending on the size. Use a sharp knife to pierce through the bottom of the heart to check for doneness.

Meanwhile:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F
  2. Evenly spread the breadcrumbs on flat baking pan or cookie sheet and bake until toasted but not completely dry, 5 to 8 minutes. In other words, don’t be too picky but do watch them closely so they don’t burn.
  3. In a sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the pork, breaking it into small pieces, until it is cooked through and crumbled. Drain on paper towel.
  4. Add two tablespoons olive oil to the pan and then the onion and garlic sautéing until the onion is tender.
  5. Add the onions and garlic to a medium bowl along with the sausage, bread crumbs, herbs, pine nuts and cheese and toss just to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Once the artichokes are cool enough to handle, gently spread the leaves to open the artichoke giving room to add the filling. Remove the smallest leaves in the very center. Using a teaspoon, scrape out the fuzzy choke making sure you get the fuzz out of the crevices.
  7. Lightly fill the artichoke center with filling as well as in-between the leaves and place the artichokes in a baking dish that has just enough room to hold them snuggly.
  8. Drizzle with remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and the one cup of broth.
  9. Carefully pour water into the bottom of the dish (avoiding artichokes) up to ¼-inch.
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top of the stuffing is lightly browned and the artichokes are hot.
  11. Serve the marinara sauce as a dip on the side.
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Anchovy & Pine Nut Stuffed Artichokes ~ Serves 4 to 6 ~ This is a lighter version and makes a great appetizer using artichokes that are on the small to medium size. The anchovies melt into the stuffing creating umami flavors perfect with artichokes.

  • 4 medium or 6 small artichokes, cooked and cleaned as above
  • 4 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 anchovies (or more)
  • 2 Tbls each fresh mince oregano and parsley (or 1 tsp. each dried) You can also substitute ¼ cup minced fresh basil
  • 1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs, toasted as in above recipe
  • ¼ cup capers
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Pinch peperoncino (pepper flakes)
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges
  1. Follow cooking instructions above for the artichokes and the breadcrumbs.

Meanwhile:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F
  2. In a sauté pan over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion until tender.
  3. Mince the garlic and anchovies together to form a rough paste and add to the onions. Sauté until the garlic is tender and the anchovies have “melted” into the mixture.
  4. Add the mixture to a medium bowl along with the bread crumbs, pine nuts and capers, herbs, chili flakes and cheese and toss just to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Lightly fill the artichoke center with filling as well as in-between the leaves.
  6. Place the artichokes in a baking dish that has just enough room to hold them snuggly.
  7. Drizzle with remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and the 1 cup of broth, water, or wine.
  8. Carefully pour water into the bottom of the dish (avoiding artichokes) up to ¼-inch.
  9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top of the stuffing is lightly browned and the artichokes are hot.
  10. Serve with lemon wedges or lemon butter.

Salmon Rillettes

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Rillettes is similar to pâté but potted and spreadable.  It's traditionally made with pork as a way of preserving the meat in fat. It’s delicious and equally wonderful with game birds, rabbit and in a lighter version using fish. I’ve been making this recipe since my days studying cooking in France. It never gets old!

  • 2 cups white wine or vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbls. minced chives
  • 1 pound fresh salmon fillet, wild caught preferred
  • 6 ounces good quality smoked salmon
  • 2 Tbls. minced fresh chives
  • Pinch grated nutmeg
  • 3 Tbls. lemon juice
  • 12 Tbls. plus 2 Tbls. unsalted butter, European preferred (see below), room temperature
  • Fine sea salt and fresh ground white pepper

In a shallow pan, bring the wine or broth and shallots to a simmer. Once the shallots are cooked, add the salmon and gently simmer until it is barely opaque, 5-6 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the salmon to cool in the liquid. Remove the salmon from the wine and drain it on paper towel. Strain the liquid, reserving the shallots and liquid.

In the same pan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and add the 2 tablespoons of reserved both or wine and the smoked salmon. Cook very gently until no longer transparent, about 3 minutes. Leave it to cool.

Once the fresh Salmon is cool, remove the skin and break the salmon into pieces and remove all of the bones. Shred the fresh and smoked salmon with a fork and set aside.

In a bowl, cream the butter with a wooden spoon or with a hand mixer until creamy and light. Don’t overdo it. Stir in the two salmons, chives, reserved shallots, and pinch of nutmeg. Season with salt and white pepper. Season with lemon if you’d like. I prefer not to.

Pack into a crock and chill to blend flavors for at least two hours. Bring to room temp and serve with toasted baguette slices or on Belgian endive.

You can also:

  • Cut the recipe in half                      
  • Use European Style Cultured Butter by Kerrygold or Organic Valley for example. It’s worth the price for this dish which relies on the butter for added flavor and texture. The cultured butter adds a nice tang.
  • Add fresh lemon juice to taste
  • Add 1/4 tsp. smoke paprika such as pimente d'Espelette
  • Serve with vegetables
  • Scoop small spoonfuls into Belgian endive
  • Garnish with caviar
  • Freeze it, wrapped well

Viola's Zucca in Agrodolce, Viola Buitoni's Sweet & Sour Winter Squash

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Serves 6 to 8 people

  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 or 5 peppercorns
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon currants
  • 2 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 2 pounds butternut squash, (note that I like to leave the peel on, it’s good for you and offers a variety in texture. But if you do not enjoy the skin, feel free to strip it off with a potato peeler.)
  • sugar to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F
  2. Heat the olive oil with the bay leaves, the peppercorns and a generous pinch of salt over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. 
  3. Lower the heat, cover and continue cooking until they are quite soft, stirring often to prevent catching and/or burning. You might need to add some water during the process. This will take about 30 minutes.
  4. Add the vinegar, currant and nuts and simmer until the vinegar is reduced by half. Add pepper and also the red pepper flakes if you are using it. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and check to see if you like the balance of sweet and sour, if necessary add sugar, if too sweet, counterpoint with a bit of salt.
  5. During the cooking of the onion, prepare the squash. Cut it in half length wise and remove the seeds. Slice each half in 1/2” thick half moons and crescents.
  6. Lay the slices on a parchment-lined baking tray in one layer. Salt them generously and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are quite tender.
  7. Arrange the squash attractively in a serving platter, overlapping each other and with the bottom side of each slice facing up. Drizzle with olive oil.
  8. Pour the hot onions and vinegar mixture all over them, spreading the onions all over.

You can eat it at this point, though this is one of those dishes that greatly benefit from sitting for a day or two. Serve at room temperature.

 

Compound Butters

 These butters are a fantastic “sauce” to keep in your freezer. Pull one out, thaw just enough to slice, and refreeze what’s left. Serve on veggies, grilled steaks, fish or chicken to add loads of flavor.

These butters are a fantastic “sauce” to keep in your freezer. Pull one out, thaw just enough to slice, and refreeze what’s left. Serve on veggies, grilled steaks, fish or chicken to add loads of flavor.

To make compound butter:

Simply bring the butter to room temperature. Place in a bowl with remaining ingredients, see below, and beat with a wooden spoon. Season to taste. 

  • Roll the butter into a log in plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen, wrap in foil and mark with a Sharpie. 
  • Slice into 1/4” slices when cold and place over grilled steak or chicken. 
  • Or, bring to room temp. in a bowl, stir to soften and plop onto veggies, fish or a baked potato.

To one (4oz) stick of unsalted butter and add:

Sesame Butter (green beans, chicken, steak)

  • 2 Tbls. toasted sesame seeds, black or white
  • 2 Tbls. minced chives or scallions
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Rosemary Olive Butter (chicken, steaks, roasted potatoes)

  • 2 Tbls. fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 4 Tbls. oil-cured olives, chopped and drained

Dill and Lemon (salmon or any fish, asparagus)

  • 4 Tbls. coarsely chopped dill
  • 1 Tbls. lemon zest
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Chive Butter (steak, potatoes)

  • 4-6 Tbls. chopped fresh chives

Cilantro and Pine Nut (chicken, summer squash, fish)

  • 4 Tbls. cilantro
  • 3 Tbls. pine nuts
  • 1 Tbls. lemon zest
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Green Peppercorn Butter (steak!)

  • 1 Tbls. green peppercorns, drained, crushed lightly
  • 1-2 pinches of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (or use a zester)

Vanilla Butter (delicious on baked sweet potatoes and roasted root veggies)

  • 1 vanilla been split, scrape seeds out and blend with butter
  • 1/2 tsp good quality vanilla can be substituted but it’s not as good
  • pinch cinnamon 

 

 

 

Meringue Mascarpone Cake (gf)

 I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

Makes 1 cake and serves 8 or more. Options for a smaller cake below.

For the meringue:

  • 8 large egg whites with no yolk, room temperature
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • You will need 3 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper

For the mascarpone cream:

  • 1 ½ cup mascarpone cream also known as mascarpone cheese
  • ¾ cup 2 heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 Tbls. sugar or to taste

To finish:

  • 2 to 3 cups fresh berries
  • 2 Tbls. powdered sugar for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 275ºF.
  2. Draw 3 circles of approximately 9-inches using a plate as a guide on the parchment-lined sheets. Turn the sheet so the pencil drawing is under the paper.
  3. In a *clean metal bowl with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with the salt until they're holding soft peaks but are not stiff. Gently add in the sugar, spoonful after spoonful, still beating, until you've got a bowl full of gleaming, satiny, snowy and fairly stiff meringue.
  4. Sprinkle the cornstarch, vanilla, and vinegar on top and whisk just to combine.
  5. Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchments in three equal “blobs”. Use the back of the spoon or spatula to create flat, wavy discs.
  6. Put the sheet pans into the oven and and bake for 30 minutes. Switch the pans around and bake for another 30 minutes. If they begin to brown, prop a wooden spoon in the oven door to cool the temperature slightly. You want them to stay white.
  7. Turn the oven off; let meringues stand in closed oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or overnight,  until surface is dry and meringues can be lifted from paper without sticking.

Put a Post-it on the oven so that you don’t forget they are in there!

To assemble:

  1. In a bowl, whisk (or use a beater) the mascarpone cream ingredients just until the mixture forms soft peaks.
  2. Save the prettiest disc for the top.
  3. Place a meringue disc on a platter and spread with 1/2 of the mascarpone cream or to taste.
  4. On top of the cream, sprinkle one third of the berries.
  5. Place the second disc on top and repeat. Add the third disk and decorate with remaining berries.
  6. Just before serving, use a sieve to sprinkle cake with powdered sugar.

Tips:

  • *To clean a metal bowl for whipping egg whites, rinse the bowl with hot water and soap and then rinse with white vinegar and wipe the bowl dry with paper towel. On oily bowl or bits of fatty egg yolk will keep whites from whipping.
  • The cake can be served immediately and will be crunchy. It can also be chilled for up to two hours. The longer it’s chilled the softer the meringue will be. Both equally delicious.
  • Cut with a sharp, thin-bladed knife.
  • Pastry cream or lemon curd can be exchanged for mascarpone cream.
  • Add 1 to 2 tsp. (or more) instant espresso powder and more sugar (to taste) to the whipped cream. Use the coffee cream as your filling between the meringues.
  • For a smaller crowd simply make four smaller discs. The baked meringue freezes well and can be assembled frozen. Freeze two of the discs flat on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Once frozen, wrap with foil and place in a protected area of the freezer. Use the other two for your cake and cut the filling recipe in half.



 

Braised Pork & Winter Fruit with Potnips

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This is a perfect winter dish using dried fruits and red wine. With slow cooked, braised meat dishes, I prefer to start them in the morning or the day before serving. This gives you time to taste the meat and wait for the perfect tenderness to occur and, the flavors have more time to blend. You can braise the pork in the oven or use a crockpot. Serve the pork with Potnips, recipe below.

A bone-in picnic or shoulder roast is in between the Boston butt or upper shoulder and the hamhock. It has less fat but more connective tissue and a bone down the center. It needs plenty of time to braise gently but the silky rich flavor is worth the wait.

Leftovers make great sandwiches. Add spicy or Dijon mustard and coleslaw.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 ½ to 3 lbs.bone-in picnic (shoulder) roast
  • 1 dz. dried apricot halves, figs, prunes, or a mixture
  • ⅓ to ½ cup dark or white seedless raisins
  • 1 cup dry red wine; chicken or pork stock can be substituted
  • ⅔ cup red wine vinegar  
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill (or 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 to 3 Tbls. lard or high-heat oil
  • 4 shallots or or 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl combine pork, dried fruit, red wine, vinegar, dill, mint, cumin and thyme. Cover and marinade, refrigerated, for 24 hours. Turn meat once.
  2. Bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Preheat oven to 325˚F or set the crockpot to high.
  4. Remove pork and fruit from marinade. Reserve fruit in a small bowl. Reserve marinade separately. Pat the pork until very dry with paper towels and lightly sprinkle with salt.
  5. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven large enough to fit the pork comfortably. Add the pork and brown the meat until nicely caramelized and colored. Allow meat to caramelize to a rich brown color before turning or moving. To get a beautiful caramelized coating, the browning process will take 20 to 30 minutes.       
  6. With a slotted spoon transfer pork to a plate (if you will be braising it in the oven) or the crockpot. Drain the oil from the Dutch oven, add the shallots or onion and sauté over medium heat until wilted and golden.
  7. Add the reserved marinade and deglaze the pan by bringing it to a boil, scraping up any browned bits remaining in the pan. Cook for several minutes, until slightly reduced. Add the meat back to the pot. If you are using a crockpot, pour the liquid over the meat.
  8. Stir in the apricots, raisins, half of the chicken stock, the bay leaves and honey; mix well.
  9. Cook the meat, turning once halfway through cooking, until very tender and falling off the bone. Add additional stock if needed.  A 2 ½ to 3 pound roast will take about 4 hours.
  10. Season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

Potnips

Growing up, my mom made Potnips, potatoes and turnips cooked together. With this pork dish, I mix potatoes and parsnips for a hint of sweetness.

  • Use 1 small to medium potato and one medium parsnip per person
  • Butter
  • Milk, kefir or yogurt
  • Sea salt and white pepper
  1. Started a pot of water to boil large enough to cover the potatoes. Generously salt the water.
  2. Peel the parsnips and cut them into ½-inch pieces. Drop them in the water to cook until very tender.
  3. Meanwhile peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks.
  4. Strain the parsnips and lay them on a towel or paper towel to drain and dry.
  5. Add the potatoes to the salted water and boil until tender. Drain well.
  6. Add both vegetables to the bowl of a stand mixer, or use a handheld mixer. Whip the Potnips adding butter, dairy, salt and white pepper to taste.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Black Rice Salad with Autumn Squash

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Dramatic colors, sweet, salty, bitter and crunchy ... and so good!

Serves 4 as an entree or 6 to 8 as a side

  • 3 Tbls. ghee, olive oil, or butter
  • 1/4 cup minced onion or shallot
  • 3 cups cooked black rice (cooked in a rice cooker or stove top according to package)   
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 to 4 Tbls. unsalted butter
  • 4 oz. smoked bacon
  • 1 large bunch or bag of arugula, washed 

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 Tbls. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbls. white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 2 Tbls. good olive oil
  • S&P

Roast the squash:

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Toss squash with 1 Tbls. olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place on parchment-lined sheet pan and roast until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the bacon into lardons or 1/4-inch thick slices. Place in a single layer in a frying pan and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Pour all but 1 Tbls. bacon fat in a small bowl and reserve.

Sauté the onion in the pan until translucent. Toss onion with warm rice.

Make the vinaigrette:

In a small bowl, whisk mustard, a pinch of salt and vinegar. Whisking, slowly add 1 Tbls. of the bacon fat and the 2 Tbls. of olive oil. Whisk until well blended. Season to taste.

To serve:

Toss the squash, bacon and arugula with the vinaigrette and set aside. Stir butter to taste into the warm rice. Portion the rice in bowls or a platter. Top with squash-arugula-bacon mixture and serve.

Note:

  • Rice can be rewarmed.
  • Squash can be done ahead and left at room temp.
  • Dressing can be made ahead and left at room temp.

 

Coconut Energy Balls with Flavor Options

Coconut Energy Balls with Flavor Options

These little guys are addictive. They're also easy to make and store well. I use the coconut nectar because it's low glycemic and not as sweet as agave. You could also use maple syrup, pecans and ... I can't help but keep thinking of combinations!

Roast Turkey & Giblet Gravy

 My favorite way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving is to brine it. Wether you use a free range, heritage, or standard bird, brining imparts yummy flavor and adds moisture. It also pulls out the sweetness without masking the natural turkey flavor. You can be creative with the brine flavorings by adding rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay, oranges or other flavors that you love.                    Photo: Lora Mae Photography

My favorite way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving is to brine it. Wether you use a free range, heritage, or standard bird, brining imparts yummy flavor and adds moisture. It also pulls out the sweetness without masking the natural turkey flavor. You can be creative with the brine flavorings by adding rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay, oranges or other flavors that you love.                    Photo: Lora Mae Photography

Ingredients:

  • One turkey, 10 to 13 pounds, *thawed. For a 14 to 15 pound bird, double the brine
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) water
  • 1 1/4 cup kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 1/4 cups honey or 1 cup honey and 1 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 4 to 6 lemons
  • 30 garlic cloves, smashed slightly with the side of a knife
  • 30 allspice
  • 30 black peppercorns
  • 2 bunches sage, optional
  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 (7-lb) bag of ice, optional, see below
  • Olive oil for rubbing the bird

To thaw the turkey:

  • Place the turkey in a large pan or bowl to catch the drips and thaw it in the refrigerator allowing 24 hours for every 5 pounds.
  • To thaw quickly, place unopened turkey, breast down, in a clean sink or very large container filled with cold tap water. Allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep surface of turkey cold.
  • When thawed, keep in refrigerator for up to 4 days until ready to cook.

To Brine the Turkey:

  • Brine the bird for 60 minutes per pound, about 12 hours, turning once to make sure you’ve brined both sides of the turkey.
  1. Combine six cups of the water, 1 bunch of sage, and the remaining brine ingredients in a deep sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved and gently for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the remaining (cold) water. Stir and cool completely.
  3. Remove the giblets and neck and reserve for gravy or another use and rinse the turkey. Pat dry with paper towel.

          Two choices for brining the bird:

  1. Pour the brine into a nonreactive container just large enough to hold the bird and the liquid Making sure it fits in the fridge. The bird should be submerged as much as possible. You can also turn it half way through the brining process.

  2. Use a medium plastic picnic cooler that just fits the turkey. Place the turkey into a good quality plastic garbage bag and then place the bag into a second plastic bag for double protection. Place the bird into the cooler and slowly pour the cold brine into the interior bag. Gather the bags tightly around the bird. Seal the first and then the second bag by tying it into a tight knot. Cover the bag with ice. Check often to make sure the turkey is cold and surrounded with ice. Refresh ice when needed. Turn the bird once throughout the process to brine evenly.

Preparing to Roast the Turkey:

  1. Plan on 10 to 15 minutes per pound roasting time. Calculate using both 10 and 15 minutes multiplied by the weight of your turkey to gage timing and start to check the bird for doneness at the earlier time.
  2. One hour before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse, discarding the brine and dry thoroughly with paper towel.
  3. Turn the wing tips back to hold the neck in place, tucking them under the back.
  4. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large shallow roasting pan and cover loosely with a paper towel. Set aside to bring to room temperature.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F
  6. Stuff the cavity with the second bunch of sage, halved lemons and the onion.
  7. Pat the bird to dry completely and massage the bird thoroughly with the olive oil. Do not sprinkle with salt or pepper. The bird has been flavored with the brine and the salt and pepper will blemish the skin.    
  8. Insert an oven safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being sure that the pointed end of the thermometer does not touch the bone.
  9. Add the turkey neck and chicken feet (see turkey stock below) to the pan to brown for the stock.
  10. Put the turkey in the oven and reduce temperature to 325˚F
  11. Roast turkey, basting with the stock every half hour or so. While basting, check the neck and feet. Once golden brown remove them and make the stock below.
  12. Once the breast is browned to your liking, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning.
  13. Continue to roast until the thermometer registers 175°F in the thigh, or 160°F in the breast.
  14. Remove the turkey to a platter and tent with foil to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This will help the juices absorb back into the turkey and keep it moist.

To make the turkey stock; this can be done 2 days ahead:

  • 1 turkey neck
  • Giblets, soak the liver in milk while preparing turkey. Rinse and add to stock.
  • 6 chicken feet if you have them
  • 1 onion, chopped coarsely
  • 2 each carrots and celery, chopped coarsely
  • 2 Tbls. olive oil or melted butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. whole peppercorns
  • 6 cups water
  1. In a pot large enough to hold the stock ingredients, melt the butter or oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring often until golden brown.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the liver and set aside.
  5. Continue to simmer for a total of one hour. Skim the scum that rises to the surface.
  6. Remove the remaining giblets and set aside.
  7. Strain the stock, pressing the vegetables to extract the juices and toss the vegetables. Measure the stock; you should have four cups of stock. If you have more, simmer to reduce to four cups. Set aside until turkey is done.

To Finish the Turkey and Make the Gravy:

  • Cooked giblets, cleaned of veins, muscle, etc. and minced
  • 4 Tbls. turkey drippings
  • ¼ cup all-purpose or gluten free white flour
  • 4 cups stock
  • 1 Tbls. dried porcini mushroom powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbls. Madeira or dry sherry (optional)
  • Salt & white or black pepper
  1. In the roasting pan, remove all but about four tablespoons of fat and place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat.
  2. When the drippings are sizzling, add the flour and stir until it is a golden brown.
  3. Add the stock in a steady stream, whisking. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  4. Scrape up all of the roasting bits that are stuck to the roasting pan.
  5. Add the mushroom powder and Madeira or sherry if using.
  6. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
  7. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Japanese Inspired Pork Ribs, Fermented Jicama Salad & Miso Corn

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This recipe features two of my favorite ingredients, the first, heritage pork from Rockside Ranch that graze pastures and woodlands and are fed an organic and soy-free diet. The second, fermented foods. Here, the menu is Japanese inspired using a simple marinade of Shio Koji, an age-old Japanese fermented mixture of malted rice, salt and water mixed with the culture  Asperiguillus Oryzae. The enzymes in the shio koji break down proteins and pull out the umami flavor as well as tenderize the meat. Shio koji is both salty and sweet. It’s wonderful on meat and with vegetables, so I use it in both places. The depth of flavor in free range pork combined with the umami of fermented shio koji gives an absolutely delicious end result.

The meat is naturally rich. Accompanied with lots of veggies, I would say 3 pounds of meat easily serves 4 to 6.

Notes:

  • Shio Koji is available on Amazon, in Japanese grocery stores or, you can make your own. CultureforHealth.com for example, shows you how.
  • Read through the recipe before you start. The best way to do ribs is to plan ahead. Marinate for 18 to 24 hours. Oven roast for 3 hours. Chill overnight or for several hours. Finish on the grill or under the broiler. The hands-on time is very minimal making your last minute grill time quick.

Japanese Inspired Baby Back Ribs

  • 1 rack pork spare ribs or baby back ribs, about 2.5 to 3.5 pounds
  • 1/3 cup shio koji
  • apple juice or water
  • 2 onions, each peeled and cut into four wedges

To prepare the ribs:

  1. With ribs, it's best to remove the silver skin, a thin layer of connective tissue that is very tough. On the back side of the ribs (the side without the meat) you will see and opaque paper-thin tissue. At the top, corner edge of the bones, use a sharp knife to release a small piece of the silver skin. Using paper towel to help you grip the silver skin, pull/peel it off the bone. (It will be similar to pulling masking tape off a box). Repeat until you’ve gotten all or most of it off. A little bit left on the bone is fine.

  2. In a glass container, massage the ribs with the shio koji. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate, chilled, for 18 to 24 hours.

  3. When ready to bake, wipe the ribs with paper towel to remove as much of the marinade as possible.

  4. In a baking dish large enough for the ribs to lie flat, scatter the onions to act as a rack for the ribs. Place the ribs on the onions and add enough apple juice or water to create a 1/4-inch pool.

  5. Cover and seal edges with foil and bake for about 2 1/2 hours.

  6. Check the ribs. They should be tender when pierced with a fork but not falling off the bone. They may need another 30 minutes for a total of 3 hours.

  7. I like to bake my ribs a day ahead and chill them. This makes it easy to throw them on the grill for a last minute sear and glaze with the BBQ sauce.  

  8. Remove the ribs from the fridge 20 to 30 minutes before cooking.

  9. Wrap the ends of the exposed bones with foil to keep them from burning.

  10. To grill: follow your grill instructions.

  11. To bake: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Brush both sides of the ribs with BBQ sauce. Place ribs meat side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake ribs for 15 to 20 minutes or just until the ribs are hot. Turn on your broiler and move the ribs to the top third of the oven but not at the very top. Broil just until the sauce is bubbling and has colored slightly. Flip the ribs and finish the second side.

  12. Serve extra, warmed sauce on the side.

Japanese BBQ Sauce ~ makes about 1 pint

  • 2 Tbls. sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup mirin, sherry or apple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbls. miso paste, any flavor will do
  • 2 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbls. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

To make the sauce:

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring garlic in hot oil until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice.

  3. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or until a thick sauce has formed. Be careful not to burn the bottom.

  4. Add the lemon juice to taste.

  5. Use immediately or store in the fridge until needed.

Jicama Cucumber Slaw with Shiso Leaves

This slaw uses the shio koji used on our ribs to marinade the vegetables creating a wonderful texture and flavor. Shiso leaves add a bright, fragrant touch. Shiso leaves can be found in Japanese grocery stores. Substitute with fresh Thai basil, basil, or cilantro.

  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 english cucumber or two Persian cucumbers, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 Tbls. shio koji
  • 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 red or jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, sliced thin, to taste (optional)
  • 4 shiso leaves
  1. Place everything but the shiso leaves in a gallon plastic bag. Remove air, seal, and massage gently to cover all of the vegetables with the liquid. Refrigerate for 20 to 40 minutes.
  2. Drain the liquid. Slice the shiso leaves (or herbs) into thin ribbons and toss with the vegetables. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Miso Corn

Miso butter can be served room temperature or chilled. It can also be rolled into a log in between plastic wrap and chilled or frozen. Thaw and slice into 1/4-inch “coins” to top grilled chicken, fish, and vegetables.

  • 1/2 cup good quality unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup white miso (any miso will do but I like mild white with corn)
  • corn on the cob
  1. In a small bowl, mash the miso and butter with a fork until blended.
  2. Boil or BBQ the corn and serve the miso butter on the side.

Cured Pork Chops with Vanilla & Stone Fruit

Traditional brines are heavy on the salt and used to preserve meat but we are just looking for flavor and texture in this recipe. This brine, delicately sweet and infused with vanilla, is perfect with pork and summer stone fruits. Plan for about four hours brining time. Serves 4 to 8

  • 2 lbs. boneless or bone-in pork chops (I use Rockside Ranch pork chops)

Brine:

  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup kosher or sea salt (not fine table salt)
  • 2 Tbls. cracked black pepper
  • 2-inch piece of vanilla bean, split down the center (optional but adds flavor)

Honey Vanilla Sauce (optional)

  • 4 peaches or equivalent amount of apricots or cherries
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup white wine or stock
  • 1 cup pork or chicken stock
  • 1 Tbls. honey
  • 1 Tbls. peach, apricot, or cherry jam to match your fruit
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked blacked pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter (optional)

To make the brine, stir the brine ingredients together until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add 1 ½ cups cold water and stir. Cool completely.

Trim excess fat from the chops and reserve. Immerse the pork chops in the brine making sure the meat is submerged and chill for four to six hours.

Remove the chops from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet to medium high. Melt the reserved pork fat in the pan. Pat the chops dry with a paper towel and place them into the pan. Save the vanilla bean for your sauce and discard the brine.

Tip: to sear any meat, once you’ve placed it in the pan, don’t be tempted to move it. The meat will stick but as the natural sugar in the meat begins to caramelize, it will form a crust. Once a rich brown crust has formed, flip the meat and finish cooking just until 160˚ for medium. Remove, place on plate and tent with foil to rest for ten minutes.

While the meat is cooking, bring a small pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl with ice water. Peel the peaches by carving an X just through the skin. Drop them in the boiling water just until the X starts to curl, about 30 seconds. Drop the peaches in the ice water to stop the cooking. Peal and cut into thick slices and set aside.

Make the sauce: Pour off most of the fat leaving a tablespoon or so. On low heat, sauté the garlic just until tender. Add the wine and reserved vanilla bean and simmer to reduce by half scraping up the bits of meat stuck to the pan. Add the stock, honey, and jam and simmer until the sauce is a syrupy glaze. Add the peaches and cook just until the peaches are warmed through. Turn off the heat and swirl in the cold butter. Season to taste. Serve the sauce over the Pork chops.           

  • If you’ve got leftovers, slice the pork and warm it with the peaches and some BBQ sauce for a great sandwich!

*Recipe adapted from Nancy Oaks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggs Benedict Salad with Cottage Bacon, Spring Vegetables & Lemon

Cottage bacon is sweet, full of flavor, and has just enough fat. If you google it or Canadian bacon, the options are always the same, pizza and Eggs Benedict. It can be used in place of bacon in just about any application but it’s so delicious, I prefer to let it stand on it’s own. Here I’ve made a summer “Eggs Benedict Salad” with Spring vegetables, lemon, and croutons.

Serves 4

  • 1 pound Cottage Bacon, I use Rockside Ranch
  • 4 to 8 eggs, boiled for 7 to 8 minutes, drop in ice water to cool then peel and quarter
  • 1 bunch asparagus (or one handful of green beans per person) cut on the diagonal
  • ¾ lbs. baby new potatoes or larger potatoes quartered and dropped in cold water
  • 1 large handful washed and dried lettuce of your choice per person
  • 1 -2 tomatoes, quartered
  • Your favorite olives to garnish
  • Croutons of your choice
  • ½ Tbls. Dijon style mustard
  • 2 shallots, minced (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon, about 4 Tbls.
  • ½ cup good quality olive oil or too taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper, I love pink peppercorns here
  • Pinch sea salt

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice and water. Drop the asparagus, green beans, or both into the boiling water and stir. Cook just until crisp tender, about two minutes. Test one and when cooked to your liking, scoop the vegetables out and drop them into the ice water to cool. Drain as soon as they are cold. Place them back in the bowl.

Salt the boiling water and add the drained potatoes. Cook until the can be pierced with a knife with resistance. They will still cook as they cool.

Make the dressing: Whisk the mustard and shallots together in a small bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and then the olive oil. Season to taste and adjust lemon or olive oil to your liking. When to potatoes are done, drain and place in a bowl and toss with several tablespoons of the dressing. Set aside.

Now for the bacon: Heat a medium heavy bottomed skillet of any kind. Once the skillet is hot (wave your hand over the surface) add the bacon in a single layer and don’t move it. The bacon will stick until the fat melts and the protein turns to sugar and caramelizes the meat. By being patient, you’ll have a crispy sweet piece of bacon. Once one side is caramelized, turn the pieces over to warm the second side. The longer it cooks, the crispier it gets. That choice is yours. Stack the cooked bacon on a small plate and cook the remaining pieces.

Putting it all together: Add the lettuce to the vegetables and toss with just enough dressing to coat. Pile on a large platter and garnish with the bacon, quartered eggs, tomatoes, olives, and croutons. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad or serve on the side.

Blanching tips:

  • Don’t blanch vegetables that are primarily water such as summer squash or eggplant.
  • Mix vegetables that are grown in the same season.
  • Blanch several vegetables at once. You can store them in the fridge and pull them out to toss with salads, pasta , or sauté in fat.

 

 

Keep it Bright: Blanching Vegetables

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The weather's gorgeous and no one wants to be indoors cooking for hours. Hence, blanching is the perfect vegetable technique for Spring. Many vegetables can be blanched in a pot full of boiling water until crisp and slightly under-done. Drain the vegetables and immediately plunge into a bath of ice water to stop the cooking and retain the bright color. You can cook several night’s worth of vegetables this way and store them in the fridge in containers lined with paper towel to capture the moisture. 

To use, sauté vegetables in good oil or butter just until warmed through or toss them into a salad. Mix vegetables that are grown in the same season; they naturally taste delicious together. 

Here’s a list of vegetables to use for blanching and fun combinations for sautéing. The italicised vegetables should not be blanched.

Asparagus, snow peas or sugar snap peas with:

  • Green onion, shaved fennel and slivered ham or prosciutto
  • Salted cashews
  • Sugar snap peas and frozen petite peas, lemon zest
  • Sesame seeds sautéd in sesame oil

Carrots with:

  • Green onion, lime juice, and chopped cashews
  • Ghee or coconut oil with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper
  • Cauliflower, mint & preserved lemon

Broccolini with:

  • Garlic, olive oil and chili flakes
  • Capers, toasted hazelnuts or pine nuts 

Green beans with:

  • Bacon and toasted walnuts or pecans
  • Diced tomatoes, garlic and nicoise or black olives

Carrots with:

  • Caraway seeds
  • Chick peas, Moroccan spices

Broccoli, cauliflower with:

  • Garlic, crumbled (leftover) Italian sausage
  • Raisins soaked in hot water then sautéed, blue cheese crumbles, pine-nuts
  • Cauliflower with curry and raisins
  • Sautéd mushrooms, shallots, basil, Pecorino 
  • Brown butter, pumpkin seeds, cumin

Blanched Spring Vegetables with Arugula, Olive Oil, Lemon & Cheese

Here's a quick, delicious, and very detoxifying salad that I love to make-

In a bowl, add a large handful of arugula per person along with a handful of blanched vegetables per person.  Note that in the photo, I've used asparagus, snap peas and fava beans. Toss with just enough good quality olive oil to coat the leaves with no oil puddling at the bottom of the bowl. Squeeze fresh lemon juice to taste and toss with a spoonful of capers. Cover with a blanket of freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy!