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Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

My dedication to eating whole foods spurs our latest response to requests for natural foods with flair, flavor and plate appeal.  Therefore, assuming the plate is a canvas for the artistry of whole foods, we continue to work with the idea of a Portobello Mushroom Pizza.

We have evolved it to a heartier main course by adding some goat cheese and fresh baby spinach and the result was satisfying, healthful and most importantly, flavor packed!

The Portobello Mushroom Pizza is a great dish but this one takes it up a notch to a more satisfying stand-alone dish.  As a side, we offered a cup of minestrone soup, organic of course, and a couple of slices of homemade sourdough bread toasted with a touch of Asiago cheese for those who enjoy carbs.

End result:  happy diners, happy creators and full tummies.  What could be better?  Pair this meal with a lovely fresh red wine and you have a romantic dinner.

Simple process, not a recipe but a method: de-stem and de-gill two Portobello mushrooms, taking care to keep the cap intact.  Heat the broiler to high.

While the broiler preheats, chop 2 seeded Roma tomatoes into a small dice.  Add 4 small cloves of chopped garlic, 6 leaves of basil chiffonade and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to the mix.  Stir well to combine.

Measure 1 ounce of goat cheese (chevré) mixed with chopped thyme, tarragon, or basil (your preference).  Set aside.

Lightly sauté 2 cups of spinach in a fry pan over medium heat until just wilted.  No oil or butter (translate: fats) necessary if you use a non-stick pan.

Line 2 dinner plates with fresh baby spinach sprinkled with Balsamic Vinaigrette (homemade if possible).  Chill the plates in the refrigerator while you broil the mushrooms.

Place the mushroom caps on a foil lined baking sheet.  Rub just enough oil on the caps to cover both sides, about 1 teaspoonful.  Broil, gill side down, just until the cap begins to shrink and yield its juice.  Remove from oven and turn gill side up.  Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Line the cap with the wilted spinach.  Top with the tomato-garlic mixture.  Dot with half the goat cheese and repeat for the other Portobello mushroom.

Return the mushrooms to the broiler, on the foil lined baking sheet, and broil until the goat cheese sizzles and begins to turn color.  Remove immediately, transfer to the spinach lined plates and serve while hot.

Enjoy!

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Pizza doesn’t get any easier or simpler than this!

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

Four 6″ Portobello Mushrooms, rinsed, stems removed and degilled

1 cup of chopped yellow tomato

1 cup of chopped red tomato

1 garlic clove, minced

1 leek, thinly sliced

3 large basil leaves, chopped

Panko bread crumbs, about a ½ cup

Low-fat mozzarella cheese or reduced fat jack cheese, grated, about 2 ounces

Procedure:

Simply degill four 6″ portobello mushrooms.  Broil them, with the gill side down for 5 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet.  While they are broiling, you can proceed to make the stuffing.

Chop and combine the yellow and red tomatoes with the chopped garlic, sliced leeks, basil, and panko.  Add the low-fat mozzarella or reduced fat jack cheese and mix well.

Remove the broiled mushrooms, turn them gill side up and discard any accumulated liquid.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff each mushroom with one-quarter of the stuffing mixture.  Broil again for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Serve with balsamic vinegar and a side salad and you’ve got Dinner with a capital “D”!

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Occasionally, when I want to serve an expensive main course, I search for less expensive sides to even out the plate.  Last week I chose onions, but in one of those odd synchronistic moments, three of us shopped for food.  The result was a glut of onions.  In fact, pounds of onions.

Onions keep really well but we had so many onions that it was doubtful that they would all survive even with the quantity of cooking we do around here.

Each of us bought some fresh salmon also so we had plenty of main course ingredients!  That’s an easy fix though: salmon grilled, salmon cakes and salmon in frittata for breakfast.  So, I went to work on creating side dishes from onions.  This is when I became thankful for the Gratin!

A gratin is any dish wherein the ingredients are topped with cheese and/or breadcrumbs and then heated until the topping is all browned and crispy making a crunchy crust.  They are usually assembled in ovenproof, shallow containers that allow large surface areas to insure that the topping will be crisp.  A gratin can also be referred to as “au gratin” or “gratinée.”

Here’s my simple side created as an accompaniment to my grilled salmon.  It’s a simple and frugal Onion Gratinée.

Onion Gratinée

2 very large onions (mine were almost a pound apiece)

Olive oil for drizzling over the onions

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

¼ cup white wine (choose something dry like a chardonnay)

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (use gluten free if you are gluten intolerant)

¼-scant ½ cup Parmesan, Romano or Gruyère cheese (I had a smattering of each so I combined them into just over a ¼ cup of cheese.  It’s a loose measurement in this case.)

Optional: seasoned breadcrumbs to cover the casserole.

(If you are gluten intolerant, you can omit the breadcrumbs without compromising the flavor or quality of this recipe.)

Preheat the oven to 450˚.

Peel and slice the onions into thick rounds.

Lay the rounds in an oiled baking sheet.  Keep them in a single layer.

Drizzle the onions with olive oil or brush them to coat.

Season the onions with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  At this point, the onions should become translucent and even show a touch of golden brown.

While the onions bake, combine the wine, heavy cream and Dijon mustard in a saucepan over medium high heat, stirring to combine.  Bring the mixture to a bubbling and turn off the heat.

By now, the onions should be finished baking.  Remove them from the baking sheet and put them into your gratin pan or a shallow casserole.

Pour the cream mixture over the onions.  Return the onions to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven.

Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs (if using) and the grated cheese.  Return to the oven until the top is golden brown, approximately 10-12 minutes more.

This recipe is quite flexible so increase the quantities if necessary.  Using these ingredients, the recipe yielded 6 moderate sized servings.  You can supplement the onions with leeks and shallots too.

Serve while hot!

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When the weather is cold and we crave comfort food, this dinner is always a winner!  I don’t remember where I first found the inspiration for this recipe but I do know that I’ve been making it for well, let’s say, over a couple of decades.

This simple recipe never fails me and continually pleases everyone at our tables.  The way I see it, you can never go wrong with a good balance of flavors: sweet ‘n savory combined.  I admit, I’ve never tried to adapt it to poultry because it just seems perfectly suited for a pork tenderloin in every way.

The entire dinner from start to finish never takes more than 90 minutes including cook time, table setting and a couple of quick snapshots.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Mustard-Fennel Seed Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple-Onion Sauté

Serve with Frizzled Spinach sautéed in walnut oil with traditional mashed potatoes for a hearty and pleasing winter meal.

1 large pork tenderloin (about 14-18 ounces) 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

2-3 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 large onion, sliced roughly

2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine (use apple cider if you are avoiding alcohol)

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Season pork with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the pork tenderloin and sear until all sides are brown, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes total. Transfer pork to plate.

Cool the pork slightly. Spread mustard over top and sides of pork; then press the fennel seeds into mustard.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add the onion slices and apple.  Sauté over medium heat until everything is golden, about 5 minutes.

Spread evenly in skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork atop apple-onion mixture.

Transfer skillet to oven and roast until apple-onion mixture is soft and brown and meat thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145°F, about 15 minutes.

Then transfer the pork to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the white wine over apple-onion mixture in the skillet. Stir mixture over high heat until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

Cut pork on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Spoon apple-onion mixture onto plates. Top with pork. Spoon some of the pan juices over the pork.  Add the frizzled Spinach and Mashed Potatoes to the plate and serve.

(*For gluten-free diners, be sure the mustard is a gluten-free brand such as Natural Value Organic Dijon or 365 Organic)

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At the beginning of the New Year, I began culling my old recipes.  One of my goals was to eliminate the useless, outdated ones and update the usable dishes that could be delectable instead of just good.

One of the gems I found was a traditional macaroni and cheese with a Mexican slant with a tomato sauce.  Back when it was popular, this recipe used macaroni, cheddar cheese, green chilis and ground beef.  Not much else except some traditional spices like oregano.

In my upgrade, I followed the basic directions for my old recipe.  However, I substituted Ziti for macaroni, Pecorino for Cheddar and added some fresh ricotta for a creamier texture.  Instead of hamburger, I used a spicy hot Italian sausage.  Therefore, the recipe followed the same path but I did alter ingredients.

The result was quite pleasing.  In fact, it was good enough to serve to company with a side salad, some freshly toasted bread and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Baked Ziti with Spicy Italian Sausage and Fresh Tomatoes

Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. hot Italian sausage, removed from casing and coarsely crumbled

1/3 cup dry red wine (I used a Cabernet)

Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup crushed dried oregano

28 oz. can whole tomatoes, chopped, with juices

1 cup ricotta, fresh is better if you can get it or packaged will do.

½ lb. mozzarella, fresh is better but packaged will work,

cut into small diced cubes

1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino

¼-1/3 cup chopped Italian Parsley

Generous pinch of nutmeg

1 lb. Ziti

Generous sprinkle of Panko Crumbs – about 1 cup or so.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ while you assemble the ingredients.

Lightly oil a baking dish and bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Prepare your mise en place (all ingredients) before beginning.  Do all your chopping, dicing, measuring and assembling to allow the process to move smoothly.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and then add about 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  When it shimmers, add the onion and sauté until soft for about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and crumbled sausage.  Saute until the sausage is browned on all sides.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

If there appears to be too much fat in the pan, pour most of it off.  Otherwise, use the fat for flavoring in the recipe.

Add the red wine and boil.  When it’s almost vanished, Add the tomatoes and their juices.  Cook, uncovered, for about 10-12 minutes.  The sauce should thicken slightly at this point.  Add the oregano and taste.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.

While the sauce cooks and thickens, mix the ricotta with the pecorino or parmesan and the parsley and nutmeg.  Let it sit while you cook the pasta.

Cook the Ziti until it’s just al dente (firm to bite).  Drain the ziti and mix it thoroughly, while still hot, with the ricotta mixture.  Coat the ziti well.  The ricotta mixture should melt like a sauce from the heat of the ziti.  Add the sausage and its sauce and mix thoroughly again.

Next, add the chopped mozzarella and toss together until mixed well.

Last, pour the entire mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle generously with panko bread crumbs and bake, uncovered, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with a fresh green salad and/or a side of vegetables and some hot bread.

Enjoy!

At the beginning of the New Year, I began culling my old recipes.  One of my goals was to eliminate the useless, outdated ones and update the usable dishes that could be delectable instead of just good.

One of the gems I found was a traditional macaroni and cheese with a Mexican slant with a tomato sauce.  Back when it was popular, this recipe used macaroni, cheddar cheese, green chilis and ground beef. Not much else except some traditional spices like oregano.

In my upgrade, I followed the basic directions for my old recipe.  However, I substituted Ziti for macaroni, Pecorino for Cheddar and added some fresh ricotta for a creamier texture.  Instead of hamburger, I used a spicy hot Italian sausage.  Therefore, the recipe followed the same path but I did alter ingredients.

The result was quite pleasing.  In fact, it was good enough to serve to company with a side salad, some freshly toasted bread and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Baked Ziti with Spicy Italian Sausage and Fresh Tomatoes

Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. hot Italian sausage, removed from casing and coarsely crumbled

1/3 cup dry red wine (I used a Cabernet)

Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup crushed dried oregano

28 oz. can whole tomatoes, chopped, with juices

1 cup ricotta, fresh is better if you can get it or packaged will do.

½ lb. mozzarella, fresh is better but packaged will work,

cut into small diced cubes

1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino

¼-1/3 cup chopped Italian Parsley

Generous pinch of nutmeg

1 lb. Ziti

Preheat the oven to 425˚ while you assemble the ingredients.

Lightly oil a baking dish and bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Prepare your mise en place (all ingredients) before beginning.  Do all your chopping, dicing, measuring and assembling to allow the process to move smoothly.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and then add about 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  When it shimmers, add the onion and sauté until soft for about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and crumbled sausage.  Saute until the sausage is browned on all sides.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

If there appears to be too much fat in the pan, pour most of it off.  Otherwise, use the fat for flavoring in the recipe.

Add the red wine and boil.  When it’s almost vanished, Add the tomatoes and their juices. Cook, uncovered, for about 10-12 minutes.  The sauce should thicken slightly at this point.  Add the oregano and taste.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.

While the sauce cooks and thickens, mix the ricotta with the pecorino or parmesan and the parsley and nutmeg.  Let it sit while you cook the pasta.

Cook the Ziti until it’s just al dente (firm to bite).  Drain the ziti and mix it thoroughly, while still hot, with the ricotta mixture.  Coat the ziti well.  The ricotta mixture should melt like a sauce from the heat of the ziti.  Add the sausage and its sauce and mix thoroughly again.

Next, add the chopped mozzarella and toss together until mixed well.

Last, pour the entire mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle generously with panko bread crumbs and bake, uncovered, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with a fresh green salad and/or a side of vegetables and some hot bread.

Enjoy!

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Few starters are simpler than this one!

Simply chill a plate.

Next, top it with some mixed greens.  Any salad greens will work but an assortment is desirable for an interesting mingling of flavors.

Slice a Fuyu persimmon and decorate the greens with those brightly colored slim slices.

Dot the persimmon with crumbles (or globs as we call them in my kitchen) of chevre (goat cheese).

Lastly, sprinkle the plate with some homemade (or store bought, if you must) candied pecans.

The result is an inviting and colorful first course, filled with flavor and good nutrition.  At the last minute, before serving, drizzle any type of citrus vinaigrette (or for New Years, use a high quality champagne vinaigrette) over the top and serve chilled!

Happy Holidays!

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Infrequently, I try a recipe that someone hands off to me. This one came from the Oprah website, a site known for a variety of offerings yet never a recipe that I’ve enjoyed without alteration or enhancement. This recipe was no different—so I made it not once but twice.

The first time I followed the recipe to the letter. It was overwhelmingly salty, had a bitter aftertaste of stale bay leaf (even though mine was fresh) and lacked pizazz but made me aware I had ingested it, all night long, in the form of indigestion. I can’t account for the reasons why since I used all fresh ingredients, but every so often the chemistry just isn’t quite romantic.

pistachio-crusted-chicken-panang-curry-sauce

The second time I made it, it met with success. I omitted the brining process. I treated it to a buttermilk bath, with a hint of lemon, for the day, instead. I used the Parmesan that is added to the pistachio, but I coated both sides of the chicken—which wasn’t in the Oprah version. I understood the pistachio as something to add texture but the dish lacked a good crunch with the first version of coating only one side.

I used unsalted pistachios and brought out the flavor by toasting them. The Parmesan added enough saltiness by itself to make up for the unsalted nuts.

I also used my own Panang Red Curry Sauce resplendent with fresh lemongrass sans thyme and rosemary, omitting the chicken stock using coconut milk exclusively, omitting the wheat flour using rice flour to coat the chicken instead, finally replacing grape seed oil with peanut oil for more flavor—and ended up with a wonderful dish that was delicious!

In the end, I streamlined the recipe, omitted offending and conflicting flavors and served a delightful meal with healthy proteins dressed in a flavorful sauce over a bed of healthy rice noodles. In order to work in some nutritious vegetables, I served a vegetable-rich green salad with two cheeses as a side.

Here is my version of the original Art Smith Recipe, that was featured on Oprah’s website (Oprah Recipe) and MNBC’s website in video form (MSNBC recipe video) as well even though the two versions were different.

pistachio-crusted-chicken-panang-curry-sauce

Pistachio-Crusted Chicken with Coconut Chili Ginger Sauce

Created by Chef Art Smith and Altered by Madame Donna C.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

Coconut Chili Ginger Sauce

* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

* 2 shallots , minced

* 2 blades lemongrass , chopped

* 3 pieces (1/2-inch) fresh ginger , thinly sliced

* 1 cup sweet white wine

* 3-4 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

* 2-4 tablespoons Chinese black bean chili sauce

* 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk

* 1/4 cup unsalted butter , softened and cut into pieces

* Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pistachio-Crusted Chicken

* 4 boneless chicken breasts

* 1/2 quart buttermilk

* 6 ounces or more, UNsalted pistachios , shelled and toasted

* 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

* 1 cup rice flour or AP flour

* Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Peanut oil to taste

For the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the tablespoon of butter, the shallots, lemongrass, ginger slices and wine. Reduce to half.

Add the red curry paste and Chinese black bean chili sauce and reduce to half again.

Add the coconut milk and reduce to half a third time. Remove from the heat and whisk the bits of butter into the sauce until all the butter has been incorporated.

If you are trying to eliminate fats,  you can leave this out.  The purpose of the butter is to add a glossy sheen to the sauce which is for aesthetics, not necessarily taste.

Season with salt and pepper.  If you reheat, do not allow the sauce to boil or the butter will separate.

For the chicken: Cut breasts in half.

With a meat mallet, pound until 1/4-inch thick and place in a non-reactive bowl. Pour the buttermilk over the chicken, cover, and let sit for at least 2 hours or more in the refrigerator.

In a food processor, place the pistachios and the parmesan cheese. Pulse 5 or 6 times until the mixture is finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 250°.

Place the rice flour in another bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and prepare it for assembly.

Preheat a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat with a thin coating of peanut oil.

Remove one breast, shake off any excess buttermilk and dust the breast with flour on each side.

Dip both sides of the chicken back in the buttermilk and press pistachios onto each side.

Repeat that step with all the chicken. Place the chicken in the sauté pan and cook for 2-3 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken breast.

Turn and cook the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. Place in the oven to finish cooking for 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove, let rest for 5 minutes and then slice to serve with the Coconut Chile Ginger Sauce.

As I stated above, I served the Pistachio-encrusted Chicken over a nice mound of rice noodles with a generous serving of Panang Red Curry Sauce.

On the side, a vegetable-laden green salad counterbalanced the spicy curry with a cool and mild flavored complimentary taste experience.

Mixed greens with roasted beets, avocado, radish, tomato, jicama and 2 cheeses

Mixed greens with roasted beets, avocado, radish, tomato, jicama and 2 cheeses

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