Roasted Tomato Jalapeno Salsa

roasted tomato salsa
I’m sorry for my infrequent posts these past few months – but I have a good excuse.

Our family is growing! And while I have been feeling pretty good, all things considered, blogging has taken a back seat lately. In the past few months, I haven’t felt much like experimenting in the kitchen. Slightly nauseated and continually tired, my cooking pursuits have been limited to grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, whole wheat blueberry muffins, and mushroom cheddar omelets.

But all of that has suddenly changed. You see, I think I’ve reached that nesting phase. For most women, I guess nesting means washing baby clothes and hanging mobiles. But not for me. No, in our house Jeff is in charge of decorating the nursery while I obsessively stock our freezer with meals and ingredients to enjoy when we’re too bleary eyed and exhausted to even beat eggs.

Thankfully, our farm share’s bounty is well timed. The tomatoes have started to pour in, along with piles of fresh herbs and loads of garlic. This week, I threw it all in the oven, along with some green jalapeno peppers, and made a big batch of this spicy, smokey salsa. After I was done eating my fill of chips and salsa, I froze the rest. As it happens, cooked salsas actually freeze pretty well and retain their flavor for a few months in the freezer. The texture of the salsa might change when defrosted, but if you stir it well and heat it up again, it is just fine.

This salsa is really easy to make, and works well in all kinds of recipes. I froze most of my batch, and when I defrost it, I’ll probably use it to marinate steak for grilled steak fajitas. Or possibly I’ll toss it with some black beans, whole wheat pasta, and cheddar for a southwest pasta bake. I might even just spoon it into a tortilla with some scrambled eggs for a quick breakfast burrito.

Roasted Tomato Jalapeno Salsa
Makes about 4 cups

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 medium tomatoes, halved
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
1/2 small onion, thickly sliced
4 peeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons minced scallion
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with half of the oil. Arrange the tomato halves, jalapeno halves, onion, and garlic cloves on the baking sheet and brush with the remaining oil. Roast the vegetables until the onion begin to brown and the peppers are blistered. Cool slightly. Working in batches, pulse the vegetables in a food processor and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the cilantro, scallions and vinegar. Add salt to taste. Serve right away, refrigerate for a few days, or freeze to use within a few months.

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Published in: on July 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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Pantry Pasta with Celery and Parmesan

pasta with celery and parmesan

Sometimes the washing machine breaks and floods the basement with sudsy water. Sometimes the heel of your favorite black leather ankle boot breaks off as you’re walking up the stairs to your office. Sometimes a jagged pebble on the interstate bounces up and cracks your windshield. Sometimes, all of these things happen on the same day.

And at the end of a day like this, simple, unfussy food can feel so, so good.

There was a time when the more exotic ingredients a recipe had, the more desperately I wanted to rush out and buy every single one. I would lock myself in the kitchen for hours, emerging triumphant, elaborate concoction in hand, anxiously awaiting oohs and ahhs. And every so often I still get the urge to flex some culinary muscle.

But these days, I fully appreciate the basic beauty of a quick, easy, tasty and healthy recipe.

Quick. Easy. Heathy. It’s the holy grail of weeknight cooking. I used to think that simple was boring – a cop out. But the truth is that simple is elegant, sophisticated. Kind of like my favorite black leather ankle boots were before that six-inch heel bit the dust.

But back to the food.

whole wheat pasta with celery and parmesan

The thing with simple food is that each ingredient matters. Good pasta, fresh celery, and the very best cheese you can find turn some simple pantry staples into a pretty delicious dinner. Assuming that, like me, you have a thing for cheese, you might even have all of the ingredients for this deceptively basic dish in your kitchen right now. And if you don’t, well, make this pasta once and I promise you’ll start keeping anchovy paste and wedges of parmesan on hand at all times.

This pasta takes all of 10 minutes to make, is full of flavor, and is ultimately comforting. If you think you aren’t a fan of anchovies, I don’t blame you. Neither was I. Until I tried melting down anchovy paste in plenty of fruity olive oil. When cooked, the anchovy paste imparts a deep, rich, salty flavor to the pasta that is frankly addictive. And if Jeff, the consummate fish hater, asks for this pasta on a weekly basis, then there really has to be something to this anchovy business. As for the celery, well, I use it because it’s always in my fridge. Why do I buy celery every week? I honestly have no idea. But I do it. And I’m always looking for ways to use it up. Go figure. I suppose that you could elevate this dish by using a bit of sliced fennel and some fennel fronds instead. But the humble celery works just fine. It’s lovely, actually, and pretty underrated.

The real star here, though, is the cheese. Which means you should spring for good cheese. And no, good cheese does not come in a shaky can. I’m not actually sure that stuff is cheese at all. What you want is a nice wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano. And a good grater.

pantry pasta up close

Pantry Pasta with Celery and Parmesan
Serves 4

1 13.25 ounce box of whole grain linguine
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons anchovy paste
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped celery leaves

In a large pot of boiling, well salted water, cook the pasta until just al dente. Be careful not to overcook. Meanwhile, in a very large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the anchovy paste and garlic in the oil, stirring often, until the garlic starts to brown slightly. Add the celery, oregano and red pepper and continue to cook until the celery is soft, about 5 more minutes, and then reduce the heat to low. When the pasta is done, drain and reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the skillet with the celery mixture, along with one cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the sauce, along with half of the cheese. Cook, stirring, for a couple more minutes, adding additional cooking water to loosen the sauce if needed. Serve the pasta in bowls, topped with the celery leaves and the remaining cheese.

Published in: on March 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm  Comments (9)  
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I Resolve to Cook

I’m a list maker.  An obsessive list maker.  At work, I even color code my to-do lists. My coworkers probably think I’m nuts.  But I’m really just a disorganized person striving for order.  All of which is to say that I have nothing against list-making.  Actually, I adore it.

So it should come as no surprise that I have habitually written down my New Years Resolutions. Some years it’s just one or two goals, other years it’s a whole pile of them.  But this year is different.  This year, I’m content to be just the way I am.  So while I would love to lose those last 10 pounds, spend more time volunteering,  reconnect with old friends, and start to compost, none of those things are as important as being grateful for my life just as it is.

So in the absence of New Years Resolutions, my list-making self will just share with you my latest to-do list.  It’s really a to-make list.  It’s a list of those recipes I’ve been meaning to prepare, the ones I’ve bookmarked and remembered and forgotten and remembered again. My to-make list is actually miles long, but since my neurotic color-coding methodology would probably make your head spin, I’ll just share with you my top ten must-make totally-craving have-to-try recipes for the new year.

I’ve always loved Muhammara, a zesty, rich pepper-filled spread. This version from Taste of Beirut has been on my to-make list far too long. I just adore the idea of scooping it up with french fries like ketchup!

I’ve never baked with avocados, but I’m so drawn to the simplicity of this green-tinged Avocado Pound Cake  from Joy the Baker.

I know that Hanukkah is over, but I’m still in brisket mode. I love brisket. And I love rhubarb. But Brisket with Rhubarb and Honey?  Why not? Sounds like a brilliant pairing from Sassy Radish. And luckily, I still have a whole bag of rhubarb in my freezer from when I went on a rhubarb picking binge in June.

Sriracha Popcorn  from A Nutritionist Eats.  Simple. Spicy. Brilliant. ‘Nuff said.

I am addicted to Brussels sprouts and can’t wait to make these Roasted Brussels Spouts with Grapes and Thyme  from Weave a Thousand Flavors.  Earthy veggie, sweet fruit, fragrant herbs – sounds fantastic!

Sometimes indulgent needs to meet healthy, like with Scandi Foodie’s Brown Rice and Fig Tartlets

Rambling Tart’s Danish Puff  looks so indulgent and homey.  I can’t wait to enjoy with a cup of hot coffee!

I’ve been on the lookout for fun ways to use my slow cooker and this Slow Cooked Apple Butter from SkinnyTaste looks wonderful, and probably makes the house smell even better.

Aren’t these Spaghetti Nests from Angie’s Recipes adorable?

I love soda bread and have been eying this Oat Soda Bread from 101Cookbooks for months. I’ve been into herb butters lately, and this bread seems like the perfect vehicle for a big old pat of lovely butter.

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm  Comments (9)  
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Thanksgiving Sides to Savor

Can I tell you a little secret? 

I don’t really like traditional Thanksgiving sides. 

Actually, it’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I don’t love them.  And I want to love them. I feel like I’m supposed to swoon over mashed potatoes, but I find most versions kind of boring.  And stuffing? Um, it’s mushy bread. 

But I do love Thanksgiving. I love curling up on the couch with a big mug of coffee to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I love spending the afternoon in the kitchen with my family.  I love lingering around the table. And Thanksgiving isn’t really about the turkey anyway, it’s about family and friends.  I know I’ve harped a lot lately on the concept of good living, but I promise this is the last time.

There’s a moment, after the pumpkin pie, when the whole family is full and happy and laughing. To me, that moment is truly the height of good living. As I mentioned before, the folks at Fage (makers of yummy Greek yogurt)  have asked a few of us food bloggers to weigh in on what makes for good living.  And while I’d gladly trade lumpy mashed potatoes and chilly New England weather for crispy spanakopita and Mediterranean sunshine, we can live the good life right here in Connecticut too. Whether corn bread stuffing makes you drool or not, be sure to savor all of the good moments this week!

And should you like some inspiration for deviating from the usual green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole, one of the following recipes might make a fun addition to your Thanksgiving line up.

noodle kugel

New England Noodle Kugel

 

sweet potato

Sweet Potato and Gorgonzola Gnocchi

 

barley side dish

Roasted Onion Barley Risotto

 

chestnut apple tart

Chestnut, Gorgonzola and Apple Tart

 

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here: http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway

Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm  Comments (6)  
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Pumpkin Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

breakfast parfait

Labor Day is behind us, which means no more white pants, but lots more pumpkin goodness. 

I love this time of year.  Sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes are still abundant, but the homey scents of winter squash and cinnamon fill the kitchen.  And let’s be honest, white pants are totally still in the wardrobe! But so are lightweight sweaters and corduroy pants. 

I’m not quite ready to dive into a from-scratch pumpkin pie, but breakfast is a great way to ease into the season.  Pumpkin also happens to be super healthy, although most pumpkin-laced treats are filled with enough lovely butter and sugar to mask all those vitamins and fiber. But this not-too-sweet breakfast is decadent and beautiful despite the lack of butter.  And the best part is that is takes just five minutes – yes, five minutes!  Which means that even weekday breakfasts can be exciting, healthy, and pumpkin-filled.

Pumpkin Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

Serves 2

12 oz plain low fat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of allspice

2 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts, plus extra for garnish

4 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries

In a small bowl, combine half of the yogurt with the pumpkin, cinnamon, allspice and  honey. Spoon a dollop of pumpkin yogurt into each of two glasses.  Top with a sprinkle of walnuts and dried cranberries.  Top with the plain yogurt, then the remaining walnuts and cranberries, and the remaining pumpkin yogurt. Garnish with additional walnuts if desired.

Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm  Comments (24)  
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Summer Things

I’m sitting here, curled up on the sofa with a fuzzy blanket, eating a warm and comforting bowl of chili.  We didn’t lose power as expected, but still, this storm has propelled me into fall behaviour.  Clearly, while I was busy picking paint colors for the hallway and perusing catalogues for dining room chairs, and imagining ways to rework the landscaping in our new backyard, summer happened.  And now it’s almost over.  Next weekend marks the unofficial official end of the season, and I’m not ready.

I’m still hooked on zucchini, and craving corn.  I guess I need to cram as much summer flavor as I can into the coming days.  In case you’re feeling the same way, below are some of my favorite summer recipes, worthy of one last hurrah, and also lovely additions to a Labor Day BBQ spread.

zucchini and eggplant stew

Easy Ratatouille

Perfect for using up those summer veggies,  this simple ratatouille is delicious over grilled chicken or fish, and wonderful at room temperature tossed with cooked pasta for a veggie-filled pasta salad.

watermelon juice drink

Watermelon Basil Martini

Pretty and pink!  This refreshing summer drink is fantastic for a labor day BBQ. You can make a big pitcher and let your guests help themselves.

chocolate malt

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Malt

To me, malts and milkshakes scream summer.  Enjoy a malt from a huge glass with a bendy straw for an old-school treat.  Or try serving them in little shot glasses for a really fun BBQ dessert!

tomato bread salad

Panzanella

I spend August in pursuit of perfect tomatoes. And once those tomatoes arrive, using them in every possible dish becomes my mission!  This simple panzanella salad is lovely and easy and full of fresh flavor.

Published in: on August 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm  Comments (12)  
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A Simple Egg: My Favorite Lunch

chickens peck the ground

Thanks to all of this never-ending rain, New England has burst forth with dozens of shades of green. We spent last weekend in Vermont, puttering around dusty antique shops, wandering through grassy fields, and enjoying the emerald scenery.

Vermont Green Mountains

All of that pure, clean air and quiet stillness makes the simplest food taste spectacular.  Chocolate chip cookies are even more buttery, more crumbly, more salty-sweet. Farm fresh eggs taste sunny and rich.  And homemade bread that is grainy and dense sops up the yolk.  Everything tastes better on a farm. 

farm view

But even at home, eggs are my favorite indulgence and my go-to food when I’m eating alone.  Simply served with buttery toast points, there is nothing better than a fresh egg.  And with pretty green spears of asparagus overflowing from the market, my favorite spring lunch has become prosciutto wrapped asparagus twirled in a soft-boiled egg.

limoges egg cupThis isn’t so much a recipe as a suggestion, so use your imagination.  I happen to adore the earthy woodiness of wonderful, thick spears, but if you’re a fan of pencil-thin asparagus, certainly use those!  In fact, lovely mellow white asparagus would be wonderful here as well.  And if you don’t have prosciutto on hand, paper-thin slices of Italian soppressata would be a nice, spicy touch. 

hill farm inn VT

Soft Boiled Eggs With Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Serves 2

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (about 18 spears)

4 large eggs

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a shallow pan, bring a few inches  of water to a simmer.  Add the asparagus and blanch for just two minutes. Drain the asparagus and plunge them in a bowl of ice water.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring a few cups of water to a boil (enough to cover the eggs).  Reduce the heat to medium and carefully add the four eggs.  Boil for four minutes, then drain (if you like your eggs a bit less runny, or are worried about undercooked eggs, boil for five minutes).

Slice the prosciutto into strips.  Wrap the prosciutto strips around the asparagus. 

Serve two eggs per person.  Place the eggs in egg cups, carefully crack the tops off the eggs, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve with the prosciutto wrapped spears for dipping into the runny egg.

*We stayed at the wonderful Hill Farm Inn in Arlington, VT.  Head up there for beautiful scenery, adorable farm animals, and a fantastic country breakfast!

Published in: on May 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm  Comments (20)  
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Hawaiian Bruschetta

cream cheese and pineapple bruschetta

Jeff insists that there is a world of difference between a ‘vacation’ and a ‘trip’.  And he’s right.  According to Jeff, a vacation involves a beach, some sunblock, and a drink with an umbrella in it.  A trip is just about anything else.  A vacation is about pure relaxation.  A trip, on the other hand, could involve visiting family, exploring a new city, or even work. 

But in the world according to Jeff, it has been a long time since we have had a vacation. Which may be why I have been dreaming of Hawaii.  I loved everything about Maui when we went a few years ago.  Pretty beaches, colorful fish, amazing hikes.  But most of all I loved the fusion of flavors.  The variety of influences, the quirky allegiance to retro ingredients, the fresh produce, and the long culinary heritage combine to form a unique food scene. 

So when the folks at Kings Hawaiian Bread asked me to come up with a creative brunch spread using their round bread, it seemed totally natural to cross cultures.  Living here in the North End of Boston, with Italian pastry shops on every corner and the smell of garlic in the air, bruschetta is always on my mind.  And it’s fantastic anytime of day, with a variety of toppings.

The rich, sweet flavor of Kings Hawaiian bread is a fantastic foil for all things spicy, sweet, creamy and savory.  So I went for all of the above.  The variety of toppings made for a fun brunch spread – and would be great for a crowd.  Round out the meal with a big bowl of fresh fruit salad, a little dish of macadamia nuts, and plenty of Kona coffee and you’ve got yourself a party.  Brunch entertaining is the way to go.  Easy, fun, and inexpensive.

brunch dish

I love this pineapple salsa – it would be as great on grilled fish as it is on toasty, buttery bread.

pineapple cream cheese on bread

And who knew that pancetta and pineapple were a match made in heaven?  The mild cream cheese, sweet pineapple, salty pancetta and crunchy banana chips are an unlikely, but exciting combination.

Scrambled egg bruschetta

Soft scrambled eggs, parmesan cheese, and Maui onions are a no-brainer, but the Hawaiian bread makes all the difference. The sweet, soft bread turns simple eggs into decadence.

teriyaki ham bruschetta

It wouldn’t be Hawaiian without some pork, would it?  The quick teriyaki sauce on this ham is salty, spicy, sweet and intense.  Sliced thinly, this makes a fantastic bruschetta topping, but you could buy Kings Hawaiian rolls instead, cut the ham in thick chunks, and make some wonderful warm sandwiches.

Bruschetta with Pineapple Salsa

Serves 4

2 thick slices Kings Hawaiian round bread

cooking spray

1/4 cup chopped pineapple

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon lime juice

salt and pepper to taste

Cut the bread slices in half so that you have 4 smaller pieces.  Spray the bread with cooking spray and grill in a cast iron pan or on a griddle over medium heat until slightly browned. Mix together the pineapple, onion, jalapeno, parsley, and lime juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve the bread with the salsa topping.

Bruschetta with Pineapple Cream Cheese and Pancetta

Serves 4

2 thick slices Kings Hawaiian round bread

4 ounces cream cheese

1/4 cup minced pineapple

8 slices pancetta

1/4 cup banana chips

Cut the bread slices in half so that you have 4 smaller pieces.  Spray the bread with cooking spray and grill in a cast iron pan or on a griddle over medium heat until slightly browned. Meanwhile, whip the cream cheese with the pineapple.  Cook the pancetta in a skillet over medium heat until slightly crisp.  Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bread and top each with two pieces of pancetta.  Sprinkle with banana chips.

Bruschetta with Scrambled Eggs and Maui Onion

Serves 4

2 thick slices Kings Hawaiian round bread

2 tablespoons butter, divided

1/2 cup thinly sliced Maui onion (or Vidalia onion)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

salt to taste

3 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cut the bread slices in half so that you have 4 smaller pieces.  Spray the bread with cooking spray and grill in a cast iron pan or on a griddle over medium heat until slightly browned. Melt half the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Saute the onion until very soft, about 15 minutes.  Add the vinegar and cook another 3 minutes more.  Season with salt to taste.  In another skillet, melt the remaining butter over low heat.  Beat the eggs with the milk.  Add the eggs to the skillet and stir continuously for about 5 minutes creamy scrambled eggs.  When the eggs are almost set, stir in the cheese.  Top the bread slices with the onion and the eggs. 

Bruschetta with Teriyaki Ham

Serves 4

2 thick slices Kings Hawaiian round bread

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon lime zest

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sambal oelek (chili sauce)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 (8 ounce) ham steak

2 tablespoons sliced Maui onion, optional

Cut the bread slices in half so that you have 4 smaller pieces.  Spray the bread with cooking spray and grill in a cast iron pan or on a griddle over medium heat until slightly browned. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the pineapple juice, lime juice, zest, soy sauce, and chili sauce until reduced by half.  In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the ham steak and cook until slightly brown, flip and cook another 2 minutes to brown on both sides.  Add the sauce to the pan with the ham steak and cook over low heat, turning the ham and swirling the pan every so often for about 10 minutes, until most of the sauce has cooked away.  Remove the ham from the pan and slice very thin.  Arrange the ham on the bread and garnish with onion if desired.

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 10:28 am  Comments (30)  
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New Year’s Day Brunch

There are a number of things I miss about living in Manhattan. High up on that list is brunch.

Brunch is served here in Boston, but it’s just not the same.  New Yorkers really know how to brunch.  In New York, brunch is not a meal eaten between breakfast and lunch, but in place of both.  Meaning that nobody in New York eats brunch at 10:00am.  I don’t even think restaurants open for brunch that early.  Brunch reservations are hardest to come by around 1:00pm, once the city has awoken and everyone has had time to make themselves presentable.  Which is another thing I love about brunch in the city.  It’s an occasion to be seen.  Here in Boston, I throw on sweat pants and stumble down the street for pancakes.  In New York, I wouldn’t have dreamed of brunching without blow drying my hair and smearing on lip gloss.  There’s something about drinking cocktails with your eggs that makes you feel like you should wear make-up, and since no New York brunch menu is complete without a cocktail, mascera is a must.

In the spirit of the New York brunch, I give you a few ideas to choose from for your New Year’s Day festivities.  Sleep in, pour plenty of Champagne, and treat yourself to a decadent meal before those New Year’s Resolutions sink in.

New England Noodle Kugel

cranberry nrunch kugel

Noodle kugel makes for a wonderful brunch dish.  Serve with a salad of orange and grapefruit wedges

Blueberry Cornmeal Waffles

blueberry cornmeal waffles

Go ahead and use frozen blueberries in place of fresh.  No need to thaw before adding them to the waffle batter.

Chilaquiles

mexican breakfast

I top my chilaquilles with a fried egg, but tossing some shredded chicken in the pan when you add the tortillas to the bubbling salsa would be even more authentic. Of course, you could always go for both!

Peach Oat Muffins

healthy peach muffins

I love these moist and chewy muffins with a liberal schmear of strawberry jam.  Something about the peach and strawberry combo does it for me! Frozen peaches work great in this recipe.

Italian Chicken Sausage Hash and Eggs

hash and eggs

Crisp, hearty sausage hash is fantastic for feeding a crowd.  I love this version with Italian sausage, but for extra kick you could substitute fresh Mexican chorizo instead, and garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro.

Apples ‘N Honey Pancakes

brunch pancakes

Pretty apple slices, sweet honey drizzle, what more could you want? Oh yeah… a glass of Champagne.

Published in: on December 27, 2010 at 8:30 pm  Comments (14)  
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Baking for Passover

chocolate meringue cookies

I suppose that for some folks Passover is a miserable stretch of deprivation.  But Passover has always been my favorite holiday. and while I am one of the few nuts out there who actually enjoys matzoh, it’s not just because of the crackers.  Well, ok, it’s partially because of the matzoh (egg matzoh spread with good butter and a sprinkle of salt).

fresh mangoEvery year I tell myself that I’ll lose a few pounds at Passover, what with skipping all that leavened goodness.  But that never seems to happen, in fact quite the opposite. I adore Passover food.  Jeff and I have a running joke that all Jews eat is bagels and fish (Jeff even made up a song about bagels and fish – no joke).  But even Jeff has to admit that with no bagels allowed, we pull out all the stops and put out a pretty irresistable spread. I can’t say no to brisket or potato kugel. And my mom’s matzoh brei (matzoh dipped in egg and fried in chicken fat) is the stuff of dreams – well, my kind of crazy food-obsessed dreams, anyway.  Given that flour is off-limits you might think that Passover desserts are not an issue, but you’d be wrong.  Oh, I’ve had my share of icky matzoh-meal brownies and sandy angel food cakes.  But then there are the fabulous flourless chocolate cakes, and the coconut macaroons, and the matzoh brittles, and the cheesecakes.  And, of course these lovely egg-white concoctions. 

mango pavlovas

I don’t know why I don’t make meringue cookies more often.  They are light and  delicious, and in the grand scheme of cookies, relatively healthy.  And these mini pavlovas are so easy and yet so impressive that they would be the perfect dessert for a back-yard garden party.  If you have never made pavlovas, they are truly heaven.  Pillowy meringue topped with creamy goodness and sweet fruit.  What’s not to love? The key with both the cookies and the pavlovas is quality.  With so few ingredients, each one really counts.  Use great chocolate for the meringue cookies (you all know my fondness for Green & Blacks) and be sure you have a perfectly ripe mango for the pavlovas.  You won’t be sorry.

 

chocolate meringue cookies

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

cooking spray

2 teaspoons matzoh meal (or all-purpose flour)

3 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Coat two baking sheets with spray, sprinkle with matzoh meal and shake off the excess.  In a very clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Add in the sugar and continue to beat until glossy.  Fold in the chocolate and vanilla.  Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for one hour and then turn off the oven and let sit for another hour.  Cookies will keep a couple of days in an airtight container.

mango pavlovas

Lemon-Mango Pavlovas

Serves 6

2 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons potato starch (or corn starch)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

1 large mango, diced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar and beat until glossy.  Sprinkle the potato starch over the egg whites, add the lemon zest and juice and the vanilla and fold gently to incorporate.  Spoon the egg whites into six mounds on the parchment, creating a slight indentation in the middle of each mound.  Bake 50-60 minutes, until slightly golden, and then carefully transfer to a rack to cool.  Once fully cooled top each meringue base with a dollop of sour cream and some of the chopped mango.  Serve with plenty of napkins as these can get messy!

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 8:23 pm  Comments (26)  
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