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Fresh or Dried? That is the question

What are you doing with your fresh herbs?

It’s September, and if you live in Central Texas, this is the time of year when some of those fresh herbs start to dwindle. What to do? While many chefs don’t advocate using dried herbs, I’ve found that using the herbs from my garden produces much more fragrant and flavorful dried herbs that what you can purchase from the store. Plus there is the satisfaction of having something from your garden.

You can create a better dried basil that can get you through a few cold months without resorting to store-bought dried basil. Here’s how:

Pick over fresh basil. Wash it and spin it dry in a salad spinner and place it on a foil-lined baking sheet. Let it air dry for a little longer then place it in the oven. I think you’ll be pleased with the outcome. Home-dried herbs will last a few months in an airtight container and will always be of superior flavor and quality to store-bought. Below is my favorite minestrone soup (Okay, not a purists minestrone. It has Italian meatballs in it.)

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Serves 4 Total time 35 minutes

12 oz Italian sausage formed into 1” balls

2 c beef stock or broth

1 c chicken stock or broth

½ c chopped onion

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 T olive oil

1 C water

1 14 oz can crushed tomato

1 4 oz can tomato sauce

2 cups frozen vegetables, such as corn, green bean, red bell pepper, and carrot

1 can Great Northern beans

1 t dried basil

1 t dried oregano

1 t dried thyme

2 c cheese tortellini

freshly chopped basil and parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in an 6 or 8 quart stockpot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until browned on all sides. Remove sausage from pan and add 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion and garlic; cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, stocks, Italian seasoning, and water. Heat to a simmer and add frozen vegetables and tortellini. Cook until vegetables are heated through, about 15 minutes. Serve with crusty bread, fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

Try pairing this with a nice Sangiovese wine and some crusty French bread. Delicious!

I would love suggestions from you on home-drying other herbs as well! Please see the upcoming article in the October 2018 issue of  Waco Today for suggestions on using your fresh basil in marinara and pesto.

Happy Cooking!

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Memorial Day Recipes

Karyn’s Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomatoes, Feta, and Basil

“ This recipe combines similar flavors, but it is a nice alternative if you don’t want sandwiches for your picnic. “ – Karyn Brooks

PRINT RECIPE Karyn’s Bowtie Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomatoes, Feta, and Basil (1)

8 oz farfalle (bowtie) or rotini pasta, cooked to package directions
3 oz sundried tomatoes, julienne cut (I like Mariani. They are simple sundried tomatoes with no added oil. They come in a plastic package usually located with other tomato products in the grocery store.)
1 cup packed fresh basil, chiffonade cut
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (also try this with the sundried tomato-basil feta)
2 oz fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
½ c light olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
½ c Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered (optional)

Toss first 6 ingredients together, adding Kalamatas at the end. This keeps well for three or four days in the refrigerator. If you are eating this after refrigeration, you made need to toss in a little more oil to revive. This salad is delicious hot or cold, and it is safer for picnics than mayonnaise-based pasta salads.

Chicken BBQ Sliders
Makes 24 sliders

PRINT RECIPE BBQ CHICKEN SLIDER

2 lbs rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

Combine the Chicken and BBQ Sauce in a medium saucepan. Heat to a slow simmer.

24 rolls or slider buns
Olive oil or butter

Preheat a grill pan or broiler on high heat. Brush each side of the buns with olive oil or butter. Grill or broil for about 1 – 2 minutes.

2 cups Jo Ann’s Slaw (recipe below)
Monterey Jack Cheese, sliced

To assemble:
Place cheese on bottom bun. Top with ¼ cup chicken and some slaw. Serve immediately.

Jo Ann’s Slaw Recipe

1 medium cabbage, shredded fine
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon salt


Put cabbage and onion in a large bowl; top with the sugar.
In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, oil, mustard, celery seed, and salt. Bring to a boil. Pour hot mixture over cabbage and cool. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

PRINT RECIPE Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

2 Whole Vanilla Beans
1 teaspoon natural fruit pectin
¼ cup sugar
2 ½ cups whole milk
3 tablespoons milk powder
½ cup sugar
¼ cup Raw Honey
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
2 egg yolks

Slice the vanilla beans in half and scrape the seeds from each half into a large saucepan. Add the beans, combine the pectin and ¼ cup sugar in a bowl and mix to combine.

Add the milk and milk powder to the saucepan. Add ½ cup sugar, the honey, cream and egg yolks. Add the pectin mixture. Cook over medium heat to a maximum of 185 degrees, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and cool in an ice bath until the mixture reaches 39 degrees.

Chill covered, for 12 hours. Strain the mixture and pour into an ice cream freezer container. Freeze using the manufacturer’s directions.

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French Onion and Apple Soup

Our take on a classic French soup.

PRINT RECIPE

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
15 cups sliced yellow onion (about 4 pounds)
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apple, peeled, quartered, and cut into julienne strips
3 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup Madeira wine or dry sherry
6 cups lower-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
10 (1/2-ounce) slices sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups (8 ounces) grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
Fresh Thyme leaves (optional)

1. Melt butter in a French oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Continue cooking 50 minutes or until deep golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add pepper, apple, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves; cook 3 minutes or until apples soften. Add wine; cook 2 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add broth and cider; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes. Discard bay leaves; stir in vinegar.
2. Preheat broiler.
3. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan; broil 2 minutes or until toasted, turning after 1 minute.
4. Reduce oven to 450°.
5. Ladle 1 cup soup into each of 10 ovenproof soup bowls or ramekins. Divide the croutons evenly among bowls, and top each serving with about 3 tablespoons cheese. Place bowls on a rimmed sheet pan. Bake at 450° for 8 minutes or until cheese melts. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired.

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Recipes from the Farmers Market

Zuppa Toscana   Serves 6, 50 min

PRINT RECIPE

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 lb sausage, casings removed

1 medium onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 lb small red potatoes, washed and quartered

1 tablespoon all purpose seasoning ( Garlic Herb)

½ teaspoon salt

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups milk

Cracked black pepper

3 – 4 cups chopped kale or spinach

  1. Heat olive oil in large soup pot and cook sausage, breaking it apart as it cooks. (medium heat)
  2. To the pot, add onion, garlic, all the herbs and seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. Add in the potatoes and cook with the onions and garlic for 2 more minutes.
  4. Pour in the broth and bring to a hard simmer (medium – high). Cook for 25 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
  5. Stir in the milk and kale and cook for another 10 minutes (medium heat). If using spinach, cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste and serve.

Basil Pesto with Pecans

PRINT RECIPE

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup nuts: pecans
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in food processor. Process until it looks like very coarse meal and add oil gradually until smooth-ish.

Pesto Vinaigrette:

Perfect for a little different take on a caprese salad

2 T freshly-made pesto

2 T Champagne Vinegar

For the smoothest vinaigrette, process in a blender. Otherwise, whisk together and serve. Will stay fresh in the refrigerator for two weeks. Drizzle over a salad of mixed greens, fresh or sundried tomatoes, and a few balls of fresh mozzarella.

Shaved Radish, Carrot, Cucumber Salad with Tangerines and Microgreens
Recipe by Lindsey Johnson

PRINT RECIPE

2 small carrots, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 large radishes, very thinly sliced
1/2 large cucumber, very thinly sliced
1 tangerine, peeled and thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced white and tender green parts
microgreens, about 1/4 cup

Arrange the sliced vegetables and tangerine on a serving platter.  Top with the green onions and microgreens.  Serve immediately with Orange and Honey Vinaigrette.


Orange and Honey Vinaigrette

1/3 c freshly squeezed orange or tangerine juice

¼ c olive oil

1 T honey

1 T Dijon mustard

3 T champagne vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients (or shake in a Mason jar) and drizzle over salad. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

PRINT RECIPE

3 tablespoons good olive oil

3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

1 ½ lbs roasted San Marzano or Roma tomatoes

Large pinch of saffron threads

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup orzo

1/2 cup heavy cream

Grilled Cheese Croutons (see below)

In a large pot or Dutch oven such as Le Creuset, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve hot with Grilled Cheese Croutons scattered on top.

Grilled Cheese Croutons

4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices country white bread

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Heat a panini grill. Place the four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with the melted butter, being sure to butter the corners. Turn the slices over and pile cheddar on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the cheese, buttered sides up.

Grill the sandwiches on a grill pan or griddle for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into 1-inch cubes.

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Our Favorite Easter Dishes

Honey Glazed Carrots

PRINT RECIPE

Salt
1 pound baby carrots
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt and then carrots and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the carrots and add back to pan with butter, honey and lemon juice. Cook until a glaze coats the carrots, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley.

Simple Scalloped Potatoes

PRINT RECIPE

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for brushing
1/2 clove garlic
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 fresh bay leaves
1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese (about 2 ounces)

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Generously brush a large skillet with butter, then rub with the garlic. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the potatoes, sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, then arrange the remaining potatoes on top. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Pour the broth and milk over the potatoes, then add the nutmeg and bay leaves; simmer 3 minutes.

Generously brush a shallow baking dish with butter and slide the potatoes into the dish; arrange with a fork, if desired. (If your skillet is ovenproof, you can skip this step and bake the potatoes right in the skillet.)

Dot the potatoes with the cut-up butter and sprinkle with the gruyere. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Discard the bay leaves.

Classic Deviled Eggs

PRINT RECIPE

6 eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Smoked Spanish paprika, for garnish

Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with enough water that there’s 1 1/2 inches of water above the eggs. Heat on high until water begins to boil, then cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and leave covered for 14 minutes, then rinse under cold water continuously for 1 minute.

Crack egg shells and carefully peel under cool running water. Gently dry with paper towels. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, removing yolks to a medium bowl, and placing the whites on a serving platter. Mash the yolks into a fine crumble using a fork. Add mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper, and mix well.

Evenly disperse heaping teaspoons of the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

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Lemon Cupcakes with Lavender Buttercream Frosting

Lemon Cupcakes with Lavender Frosting

PRINT RECIPE

PREP TIME: 25 Minutes DIFFICULTY:Easy COOK TIME: 18 Minutes SERVINGS: 12 Servings

1-1/2 cup All Purpose Flour, Sifted

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Salt

4 Lemons, Zest Freshly Grated

1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature

1 cup Sugar

1 Large Egg

2 Large Egg Whites

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Lemon Extract (optional)

1/2 cup Milk

1/4 cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

FOR THE LAVENDER FROSTING:

3/4 cups Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature

3-1/2 cups To 4 Cups Powdered Sugar

1 teaspoon Dried Culinary Lavender, Finely Chopped

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Tablespoon Milk Or Cream If Needed

1 drop Purple Food Coloring (optional)

Fresh Lavender, For Garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a cupcake tin with liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Zest the lemons and set the zest aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add in the sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides if needed and increasing it to high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sugar and butter is fluffy. Beat in each egg and white until incorporated, then add the vanilla and lemon extract (you can also use a lemon baking emulsion) and lemon zest until combined. Beating on low speed, add in half of the dry ingredients until combined, then add in the milk and lemon juice. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and beat until combined.
Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure, scoop the batter into the liners filling them 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 16–18 minutes, or until the tops are set. Let cool completely.
For the lavender frosting:
Add butter to the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until creamy. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar and lavender. Increase the speed of the mixer, scraping down the sides if needed, beating the frosting until fluffy and combined. Beat in the vanilla extract.
If the frosting seems too thick, beat in the tablespoon of milk. If it seems to runny or too thin, you can beat in more powdered sugar ¼ cup at a time. Once the frosting is a spreadable consistency, drop in the purple food coloring and mix until evenly colored. Frost the cupcakes and top with a few lavender flowers if you wish.

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Spring Panzanella Salad with Asparagus

Spring Panzanella Salad with Asparagus

6 servings

PRINT THIS RECIPE

For the croutons:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 cups day-old bread, crust removed, cubed

6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Mix the bread cubes with the garlic, olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Toss to coat well. Transfer bread to a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

For the vinaigrette:

Half a red onion, finely diced

2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  1. Mix the red onion with the vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside for a few minutes before whisking in the remaining vinaigrette ingredients: olive oil and dijon. Set aside.

For the salad:

4 large leeks

2 teaspoons salt

1 pound asparagus

1 19-ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans

  1. Cut off dark green tops of leeks and trim root ends. Halve each leek lengthwise to within 2 inches of root end. Rinse well under cold running water to wash away sand.
  2. Cover leeks with cold water in a 12-inch heavy skillet. Add salt and simmer leeks, uncovered, until tender, 10 minutes.
  3. Without draining the cooking water (you will reuse it for the asparagus), transfer leeks to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then pat the leeks dry with paper towels.
  4. Break off tough ends of asparagus and cook it in the boiling water until crisp-tender, no more than three minutes if they’re pencil-thin, more if your asparagus is thicker. Transfer it to another bowl of ice water, drain and pat it dry.
  5. Cut the leeks and the asparagus each into one-inch segments–the leeks will be especially slippery and prone to separating; hold firm and use a sharp knife!
  6. Place pieces in a large bowl and mix in beans and cooled parmesan croutons. Pour vinaigrette over and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.
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If I Ever Plan Another Excursion….

Another pause from the Spanish Tales to mention a brief visit to an interesting Louisiana city. Natchitoches is in Central Lousiana, the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Territory. Initially, it was on the Red River, but a logjam diverted the river and another waterway was formed. It is located  on the Cane River. A dam was built down-river and now the city is on Cane River Lake. Natchitoches was the setting for the movie “Steel Magnolias,” and several of the sites in the movie and other interesting points of interests are available for tours. The church used for the movie is down river near the Melrose Plantation. It was built by Augustin Metoyer for the plantation family, is named St Augustin Catholic Church and has a portrait of St. Augustin at the altar and another of Mr. Metoyer in the church foyer. Still an active church a fund raiser is held each fall to help sustain its activities.

In Natchitoches itself, the French influence permeates the entire town. A charming downtown with New Orleans-style building is across the main street from the river. A park lines the river bank and on the Saturday Night that I visited, two different jazz groups from Northwestern University played a free concert. Later we ate crawfish etoufee at a local restaurant, the Landing. At lunch that day we had mini-meatpies, chicken and sausage gumbo and delicious chicken salad at Merci Beaucoup on Church Street. Since no hotels had rooms (we never figured out exactly what was going on in town except a large wedding), we felt fortunate to find a B&B.

My friend and I drove south along the river to the Melrose Plantation. Our guide, a descendant of the first owner, a slave whose freedom was bought by the Frenchman who fathered 10 of her children, gave us a first-class tour. The owner’s crowning accomplishment, aside from running a plantation, was buying freedom
for all of her children and grandchildren. Her descendants and others are Creoles of color in Central Louisiana. The guide and her daughter recommended a convenience store on the main highway that had meat pies, tamales, crackling and other foods. We tried the delicious meat pies, and I munched on the crispy cracklings for several days.

If you haven’t had a Natchitoches meat pie, either make your own or go to Natchitoches. Even though I’m including a recipe, I highly recommend going to Natchitoches.

Natchitoches Meat Pies
Recipe by Emerille LaGosse, with a few changes

Ingredients

For the filling:

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound lean ground meat
1/2 ground pork
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 chopped bell pepper       FYI–These three veggies are called the “trinity” in La cooking.
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
l tablespoon flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
A “dash” of the following: paprika, dried oregano and dried thyme.

For the pastry:

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons lard
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water)
Solid vegetable shortening for deep-frying
Or prepared pie crust. (This is a good choice if you make miniature pies. This recipe makes such a rich pie that the minis are a great choice.)

DIRECTION:
In a large skillet heat oil and cook beef and pork, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, Essence, cayenne and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to3 minutes.

Dissolve the flour in the water and add to the meat mixture. Stir until the mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the green onions. Mix well and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour salt, and baking powder. Cut in the lard until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small beat the egg with the milk. Gradually add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, working it to make a thick dough. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion of dough into a thin round of about 5 inches in diameter. Place about 1/4 cup of meat filling in the center of each round and brush edges lightly with egg wash. Fold edges together and crimp closed with a fork. (If using a prepared dough, just cut as many as possible from the rolled crust. Use the scrap to reform a ball and roll into a round. For miniature pies, cut 3″ circles.)

Heat shortening in a deep pot or electric deep-fryer to 350 degrees F. Fry the pies. To bake, set oven at 350 degrees F. and bake until the crust is golden brown.

Hmm. I have a free evening. These would taste SO-O-O-O-O GOOD.

Happy cooking and eating.

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The Wonderful Tatin

My favorite pan, the TATIN, awaits my attention. I have used it for the Apple Tart Tatin with apples and pears. It’s time for me to branch out into something savory. The Le Creuset Cookbook that accompanies the Tatin includes  recipe for a veggie tart. With all the attention on the Mediterranean diet, this will be my next adventure in the kitchen. The recipe follows:

Mediterranean Vegetable Tarte Tatin
 
Serves 8-10
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Wait: 5 minutes
(Recipe is for a 12 inch pan)
Ingredients:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 red or orange peppers, seeded and cut lengthwise into 3/4 inch wide strips
1 lb courgettes, cut into 1/2 inch slices,  aka zucchini squash
1- 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1- 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
10-1/2 onions cherry tomatoes
1-1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1-1/2 tbsp fresh chopped majorum
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper

10-1/2 puff pastry
1/2 c feta or mozzarella

1. Heat oil in the Tatin  dish and then add the red onion, garlic and pepper. Fry gently on low heat. Add the courgettes and fry longer.
2. Add the red wine and sugar. Cook until the juices turn syrupy.
3. Remove from heat. Add the tomatoes, herbs and seasoning. Leave to cool.
4. Spread the dough in a circle of similar diameter to the the top of the dish. Place it over vegetables and tuck in the edges. Punch two or three holes in the pastry.
5. Bake in the center of the oven (400F.) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
6.. Leave to cool in the dish for 5-10 minutes; then, separate the edges with a knife. Turn over on a large serving dish.
7. Dice the cheese and scatter over the top just before serving.

And as all good entree recipes suggest–add a green salad–and as I suggest a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio.

Happy, healthy eanting.
Jo An

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Our Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes

Thumbprint Cookies

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1 pkg.  (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened

3/4 cup  (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup  sugar

2 tsp. Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla

2-1/4 cups  flour

1/2 tsp.  baking soda

1 cup  Chopped Pecans

1-1/4 cups fruit preserve (we like Stonewall Kitchen’s Holiday Jam)

HEAT oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add flour, baking soda and pecans; mix well. Refrigerate 30 min.

SHAPE dough into 1-inch balls. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Indent centers.

BAKE 10 min. Fill each cookie with about 1 tsp. preserves. Bake 8 to 10 min. or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets 2 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

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Ingredients

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon Nielsen Massey vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup white baking chips

Directions

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in cranberries and chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks. Yield: 2 dozen.

Gingerbread Men Cookies

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3 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 large egg

1 cup molasses, warmed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons warm water

Combine dry ingredients.

In large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, beat in the egg, beat in the molasses.

Dissolve the baking soda in the warm water and add the wet ingredients.

Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Cover and chill for several hours.

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease baking sheets.

On floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.

(If you like softer, thicker cookies you can roll dough thicker)  Using cookie cutters,

cut out cookies and place 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until dry-looking and firm to touch.  Don’t over cook, edges do

not need to be brown.  Let cool before frosting.

Royal Icing

3 T. Meringue powder

4 c. powdered sugar

6 T. warm water

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a high powered mixer)

*Icing must be kept in airtight containers prior to use

Glaze for Decorated Cookies

2 1/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted

2 T. corn syrup

2 T. milk (may need to add 1 t. more)

Food coloring (optional)

Mix all ingredients and frost cookies.

*Glaze will dry with a film on top.  Keep air tight prior to use

 

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BLT Canapes with Basil Mayonnaise

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Makes 33

2 cups fresh basil leaves, plus 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2/3 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
11 slices hearty white bread
Vegetable oil spray
11 slices bacon
6 oz cherry tomatoes

Process basil leaves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt to taste.

Adjust 1 oven rack to middle position and second rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
Using 2″ round cutter, cut rounds out of bread (3 per slice), avoiding crust.
Spray both sides of bread rounds with oil spray and arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Broil until golden brown on both sides, about 3 – 5 minutes, flipping rounds halfway through broiling. Let rounds cool completely. (Can be made and held at room temperature for up to 6 hours.)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange bacon in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crispy and brown, 10 – 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and let cool completely. Break each bacon slice evenly into 3 short pieces.

Cut tomatoes into 1/3″ thick slices. season with salt and pepper. Spread basil mayonnaise evenly over 1 side of each toast, then top with 1 piece bacon and 1 slice tomato. Sprinkle with chopped basil. Serve.