Zucchini Pasta

 - by Elizabeth

IMG_5831

This dish came about because we had too much zucchini in our garden.  Well — instead of too much — a bounteous harvest of zucchini.  I found this recipe on the New York Times website, and followed it pretty much to the letter.

Ingredients
2 pounds zucchini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

¼
cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving (more to taste)
¼ cup (approximately) light cream
IMG_5826
Wash several zucchini from the garden; pat dry.  Slice off lengthwise ribbons of zucchini, using a vegetable peeler.  Peel off several ribbons from one side, then turn the zucchini and peel off more ribbons. Continue to turn and peel off ribbons until you get to the seeds at the core of the zucchini. Discard the core. You can also do this on a mandolin, adjusted to a very thin slice.
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Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick pan, over medium-high heat, and when it is hot, add about half of the zucchini ribbons, salt and pepper.  Toss and cook, keeping the zucchini in motion until it is just soft and barely transluscent, but not browned (about 2-3 minutes).  Set aside, and cook the second batch.IMG_5830Put both batches back in the pan, and pour over a little bit of cream, then add the grated cheese, again tossing lightly over medium heat.  Adjust salt and add freshly ground pepper to taste, and transfer to a serving dish.We topped ours with a fresh bruschetta-type tomato sauce.

Brined Porchetta Pork Chops

 - by Elizabeth

Pochetta Pork CHops_1 Pochetta Pork CHopsWhile looking for a recipe for the newly purchased pork chops from the Big Box store, I found this one.  But every caution says to use a pork chop with the bone still in. . . but mine were boneless.  So I compromised by brining them, and they turned out delicious.  The porchetta part is a variation of Melissa Clark’s recipe from the New York Times.

2 bone-in pork chops, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick
2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus a pinch–divided
1 cup apple juice
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
Large pinch red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, more for garnish (nice, if you have them, but the recipe will survive without them)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation

To brine: Put the chops in a quart freezer ziploc bag, or a container that is fits the chops snugly.  Mix together 1 teaspoon kosher salt and the apple juice, and pour over the chops.  Let brine overnight, then discard brine and proceed with recipe.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pat pork chops dry and, using a very sharp paring knife, cut a large pocket into the fat-covered edge of each chop. Season chops all over with 1 teaspoon salt, including inside pockets.

Finely grate zest from lemon and put in a small bowl. Cut lemon lengthwise in quarters for serving (opt).

Using the flat side of a knife, mash garlic with a pinch of salt until you get a paste. Add to the bowl with the lemon zest and stir in rosemary, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, 2 tablespoons fennel fronds and 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Divide filling between pork chops, stuffing some inside pockets and rubbing the rest on the outside.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear pork chops on one side for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Gently turn over chops and cook for another minute, then transfer skillet to oven. Cook until meat is just done, about 5 to 10 minutes longer (internal temperature should read 135 degrees on a meat thermometer). Transfer pork chops to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fennel fronds and lemon wedges.

Judy’s Tomato Soup

 - by Elizabeth

Tom Soup1 Tomatoes

This tomato soup had its origins in a basketfull of tomatoes from our garden, and the winter delivery of a care package from my friend Judy, who is an amazing cook.  In her little dish was the best fresh tomato soup I’ve tasted, and it wasn’t until I was laid up with some surgery that she finally relinquished the recipe.Tomatoes prepped

Wash and cut in half a number of Roma-type tomatoes; no need to core.  Lay them skin-side down on a foil-lined rimmed cookie sheet or a broiler pan.  If you have eating tomatoes, cut those into approximate sized chunks.  Add one onion, chunked.  Squish three cloves of garlic over the tomatoes.  Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil, and then liberally salt and pepper the tomatoes.Tomatoes roasted

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 for 40 minutes, until they are tender and even a little bit cooked down.

Place in a pot, and drizzle over some good-quality balsamic vinegar (about 1/4 cup).  With a stick blender, whir the mixture smooth, adding chicken broth as needed to bring it to soup consistency (probably about 3/4 to 1 cup of broth).

Now adjust for flavor.  Some things I usually add are:
fresh basil, snipped
heavy pinch of red pepper flakes
salt (to taste)
pepper
and if I have no fresh basil, I add about 2 Tbls homemade pesto.

Some garnishes are:
chunks of avocado
croutons
Hatch chiles, if they are in season (roast on BBQ, remove skins)

Tom Soup Garnishes Tom Soup withi Garnish

We roasted our tomatoes and onion, then placed them in a gallon-sized resealable bag and placed it in the freezer.  To prepare, we thawed the tomatoes and proceeded with the soup, as above. Tom Soup2

Quince with Cipollini Onions and Bacon

 - by Elizabeth

quince recipe

Another New York Times recipe, this is also interesting and delicious.  It all started when I had a quince and apple pie at our quilter’s night (thank you, Simone) and then the New York Times did a fabulous feature on all these recipes from all over the United States, where I found this one.  I think it’s a stellar side dish for Thanksgiving.  Because there are two of us, I halved it, so that’s what you see in the photos.

quince quince recipe1 quince recipe2

Ingredients
1 pound cipollini onions
2 ½ to 3 pounds quinces (about 5), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
6 tablespoons pure syrup
½ pound thick-cut bacon
4 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Leaves from 5 sprigs fresh thyme

Preparation

cipolini  Bring 2 quarts water to a boil, add the onions, turn off the heat and let sit 5   minutes. Drain and allow to cool.  {NOTE: The packaging from the onions said to cut off one end, and then kind of “squirt” out the inner onion out of its skin.  I did this.}

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss quinces with half the maple syrup and spread in a single layer in a large baking pan. Bake 25 minutes, until tender.

Peel and trim the onions. Quarter large ones; cut small ones in half. Fry bacon in a large sauté pan over medium heat until browned. Remove and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add onions to the pan and sauté on medium until lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Cut bacon strips in 3/4-inch pieces. Add to pan with onions. Reduce heat to low. Add remaining maple syrup and the vinegar. Fold in quince. Add nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Add parsley and thyme. Gently fold ingredients together. Cook a few minutes, then serve warm.

 

Cranberry Sauce, version 2014

 - by Elizabeth

cranberry sauceI wanted to try a new version of cranberry sauce this year, and found this one on the New York Times website.  However, theirs asked for pinot noir and I have no idea what that is, but I think it’s wine.  Since I don’t drink alcohol, I tried it with grape juice and it was still really delicious.  The recipe is still in beta-testing, but I feel reasonably confident about it, so here it is.

Cranberry Sauce
20 minutes, plus cooling 2 1/2 cups
10 whole allspice berries (I took that to mean “whole allspice”; see note below)
10 whole cloves
10 whole black peppercorns
4 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 1/3 cups grape juice
splash of rice vinegar
1 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
1 cup clover or wildflower honey
1 cup fresh orange juice
6 strips orange zest, about 1 inch by 3 inches, removed with a vegetable peeler
2 (4-inch) sprigs rosemary
1 small cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod

Preparation

Combine allspice, cloves and peppercorns in a spice grinder or coffee grinder and pulse until finely ground. [NOTE: So, I just used 1/2 teaspoon each of allspice, cloves and pepper, as I didn’t have a grinder.]

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, wine, brown sugar, honey, orange juice, orange zest, rosemary, cinnamon stick and ground spices.

With the tip of a paring knife, split vanilla pod lengthwise. Use the back of the knife to scrape seeds from pod. Add seeds and pod to pot.

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring often, until cranberries have burst and liquid thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and discard zest, rosemary sprigs, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool.

 

Change-Your-Life Turkey

 - by Elizabeth

Turkey all doneOr at least that’s what Bon Appetit Magazine calls it: “The Turkey That Will Change Your Life.”  I’m never having it another way.  Yep, I’ve found THE recipe, and here it is:

Spatchcocked Turkey with Anise and Orange, from Bon Appetit, November 2014

To start, watch this video:
http://video.bonappetit.com/watch/thanksgiving-manual-how-to-spatchcock-a-turkey

Most butchers will remove the backbone for you. Lots of guests? Roast two 12–14-pounders; spatchcocking anything larger will be harder and takes longer.

Ingredients

Servings: 8–10

5 teaspoons aniseed
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup finely grated orange zest, plus 4 wide strips orange zest
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, sprig reserved
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, sprigs reserved
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 12–14-lb. turkey (neck, giblets, and backbone removed and reserved)
2 medium onions, quartered
4 large carrots, peeled, halved
4 celery stalks
3 heads garlic, halved
½ cup olive oil

Preparation
Toast aniseed in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool; finely grind in a spice mill or a mortar and pestle. (Alternatively, chop with a knife, or do what I do: put it in a small resealable bag and pound it with a food mallet.)

Finely chop salt, grated zest, sugar, chopped rosemary, thyme leaves, pepper, and 4 tsp. aniseed in a food processor.

Place turkey, skin side down, on a cutting board. Use a knife to score down long oblong bone in the center of breast. Turn skin side up and press down on breastbone to flatten. You should hear a crack and feel the bones give way. Rub all over with salt mixture; place turkey, skin side up, on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and chill, uncovered, 6–18 hours. (Note: Of course, I forgot to do this, so I put it in the refrigerator that morning, then roasted it about 4 hours later, and it was still amazing.)

Turkey into ovenPreheat oven to 450°. Arrange onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme and rosemary sprigs in a roasting pan. Rinse turkey, pat dry, and place, skin side up, on top of vegetables; let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil, orange zest strips, and remaining aniseed in a small saucepan until oil is sizzling, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly.

Turkey on boardBrush turkey with oil, add ½ cup water to pan, and roast turkey 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue to roast, brushing with oil every 20 minutes, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°, about 1 hour longer. Transfer to a platter; tent with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.

Here’s their version of how to cut it up:

spatchcocked-turkey

from here

Hummus

 - by Elizabeth

HummusI whipped up a batch of hummus a while ago, based on this excellent recipe from the blog Inspired Taste.  While I list the ingredients here, head over there to see their video and their tips.  My sister-in-law Julie tipped me off to this–and they are right.  It is easy to make and really good.

Ingredients
one 15-ounce can (425 grams) chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans
1/4 cup (59 ml) fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1/4 cup (59 ml) tahini (I use their Homemade Tahini recipe, see below)
half of a large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons water
dash of ground paprika for serving

Directions
In the bowl of a food processor, combine tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl then turn on and process for 30 seconds, as it whips up the tahini, making a smooth and creamy hummus possible.

Add olive oil, minced garlic, cumin and the salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice mixture. Process for 30 seconds, scrape sides and bottom of bowl then process another 30 seconds.

Open can of chickpeas, drain liquid then rinse well with water. Add half of the chickpeas* to the food processor then process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl, add remaining chickpeas and process for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick and quite smooth.

Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until the consistency is perfect. Scrape the hummus into a bowl then drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top and sprinkle with paprika.

Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.

*On their website they did a comparison of hummus between slipping off all the chickpea skins, and not slipping them off before processing. After I saw the photos, I decided that I’d leave the skins on as it didn’t seem to make that much of a difference.

Charlie and HummusHere’s our grandson Charlie enjoying a bit of hummus on his pita bread.

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Tahini Paste (from Inspired Taste)

Ingredients
1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) sesame seeds, we prefer hulled
3 to 4 tablespoons neutral flavored oil such as grape seed, canola or a light olive oil
Pinch of salt

Directions
Add sesame seeds to a wide, dry saucepan over medium-low heat and toast, stirring constantly until the seeds become fragrant and very lightly colored (not brown), 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer toasted seeds to a baking sheet or large plate and cool completely. (Careful here, sesame seeds can burn quickly).
Add sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor then process until a crumbly paste forms, about 1 minute. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil then process for 2 to 3 minutes more, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the food processor a couple times. Check the tahini’s consistency. It should be smooth, not gritty and should be pourable. You may need to process for another minute or add the additional tablespoon of oil.
Taste the tahini for seasoning then add salt to taste. Process 5 to 10 seconds to mix it in.
Store tahini covered in the refrigerator for one month. You may notice it separates over time, like a natural peanut butter would. If this happens, give the tahini a good stir before using.

Mushrooms and Soy over Noodles

 - by Elizabeth

Soy and Mushroom Dish

Recipe adapted from Chris Jaeckle, All’onda, New York.
Published March 2014 in the New York Times
Further adaptations from Sam Sifton, and then further adapted in my kitchen.

Mushrooms and Soy wNoodles

Lemon Pappardelle pasta

TOTAL TIME: 35 minutes
Put the water on to boil for the a Lemon Paparadelle noodles from Trader Joe’s or use any high quality flat noodle that is at least 1/2″ wide. In between all other tasks, cook the noodles to al dente and the let them drain. Just before combining with the mushrooms, run hot water over them to freshen and unstick, the let drain again. Or, just get the timing down so the noodles are ready when the mushrooms are.

sliced mushrooms

FOR THE MUSHROOMS
About 20-30 ounces of mushrooms, thinly sliced (It’s better with a combination of mushrooms, such as Golden Oak, Crimini and Shiitakke, but it’s still quite good with just white mushrooms and crimini.) I do not measure, but when combining the mushrooms at the end, most go into the mixture, but some might be held back for another day. You be the judge.

Roughly 6 ounces cold butter, cut into 2 tablespoon pats
3 ounces butter ( for finishing)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed through a press (or minced)
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon low-salt soy sauce
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

  1. So as to not crowd the mushrooms as they cook,work in batches to cook them. For each batch, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan set over high heat until it has melted. Add 1/2 pressed clove of garlic, then about 2 -3 cups of mushrooms, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, turning until browned, tossing frequently, until mushrooms are coated with butter and start to wilt slightly. The ratio is more important than the quantity (a small amount of butter and garlic to the mushrooms), so if your pan is smaller, use fewer mushrooms. Remove to a bowl, then repeat until all mushrooms have been cooked. Remove last batch to the bowl.
  2. Add the beef broth to the pan deglaze the surface, using a wooden spoon to scrape at the browned bits. Allow the stock to reduce by half, then turn the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, whisking to combine, followed by the soy sauce, cream and olive oil. Allow mixture to cook until it thickens a little, then remove from heat. Taste for seasoning, adding black pepper, if desired.
  3. Add the mushrooms to this, tossing to coat as well as incorporate any accumulated juices (can drain those out earlier into soy mixture if desired).
  4. Put the warm noodles in a warmed bowl, then top with mushrooms and the sauce. Serve immediately.

Sweet and Savory Chicken

 - by Elizabeth

Sweet and Savory Chicken

This is a modification of the recipe “Sweet and Spicy Chicken” published on the New York Times website, which I found one day while perusing the videos from Melissa Clark.  She makes me believe I can cook anything.  Since I am of a certain age, I crave more layering of flavors and textures and this fits the bill.

SS Chicken_1

SS Chicken_2

SS Chicken_5

We served it to two young adult guests one night and one cleaned her plate and the other one pushed most of it around.  When you bite into those lemons, it’s a jolt, that’s for sure, but I loved the surprise of all the flavors together.

Ingredients
1 lemon, plus 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more for pot
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

About 4 lbs. of bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts–about 8-10 pieces total.  (Hers call for one 4-lb. chicken cut up, but we thought all this good flavor was wasted on the bony chicken backs and wings.  We also liked the dark chicken parts better than the white, although both were moist and delicious.)

3 cups sliced carrots (1/4-inch thick)
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4  cup sliced dates
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, mint or parsley, for garnish (we used cilantro)
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts, for garnish

 

Preparation (to be done the afternoon before, if possible)
Quarter the lemon lengthwise, removing any seeds. Thinly slice crosswise into small wedges and add to small pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch for 2 minutes and drain. Reserve slices.

In a saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.

Put chicken in a bowl and add honey mixture. Add carrots, onion, dates, thyme and blanched lemon slices. Turn mixture several times to coat.

SS Chicken_7We stuffed ours into two plastic zipper bags (yes, I ripped the bay leaf in half), set it in a bigger container and left it in the fridge overnight.  (She says you could let it marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but then the marinade won’t really have time to work its magic.)

The next day, heat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a sheet pan with a rim. Chicken should be skin side up. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes for breasts and 30 to 40 for legs and wings (remove the pieces as they are done cooking). When the chicken is done, give the carrot mixture in the pan a stir; if the pan looks dry add 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Continue roasting the carrots until they are tender, about 7 to 12 minutes longer.  When you have about 3 minutes to go, add in the scallions/green onions to roast along with the vegetables, just to take that rawness off of them. (A change from her recipe)

SS Chicken_9Spoon carrots over chicken and top with cilantro (or parsley or mint), scallions and pistachio nuts.  This is even better the next day.  I served it with Rice Pilaf, and served up some homemade cookies, and gelato from the grocers for dessert.

SS Chicken_10

Summer Pasta Salad

 - by Elizabeth

Summer Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

Even though I call this Summer Pasta Salad, asparagus is typically a spring vegetable.  But I always make some version of this just as the heat begins to creep into our days, as it’s easy and delicious.  Add some bread, and bowl of fruit for dessert and dinner’s done.

Ingredients
1 lb. package of high quality cheese-filled tortellini
about 8 ounces of golden cherry tomatoes (2-3 handfuls)
about 8 ounces of sweet red pearl-like tomatoes
bunch of asparagus, about 15 spears
pitted black Greek olives, about 10 very large ones, or 20 medium
extra-virgin olive oil
good quality balsamic vinegar
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
a light shake of cayenne pepper

Method
Toss the tomatoes with some olive oil and some salt and pepper, then spread out on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 425F for 15 minutes.  The tomatoes should still have their shape but be a little wobbly-looking.  Set aside to cool.

Blanched Asparagus

Wash, then prepare asparagus by snapping off the ends.  Hold your fingers at the end of the spear, letting it snap off where it wants to, then cut into 1″ pieces.  Cook in a gently simmering pot of salted water for 1 minute, then plunge into an ice-water bath to stop the cooking.  They should have some chewiness to them, but not crunchiness.  I always test first as some batches can take up to two minutes to be at the right texture.  To do that, grab one piece and put it in the ice water bath, then taste.

After each batch, place cooled asparagus to drain in a strainer or colander, then set aside.

Cooking Tortellini

Cook the pasta in lightly salted water on a gentle boil until done, but not DEAD-done.  You don’t want the pasta to fall apart.  Tip into a colander in the sink and rinse with cool water. GENTLY.

In a large bowl, place drained pasta, tomatoes, blanched asparagus, Greek olives.  Splash more olive oil on the mix, then some balsamic and some red wine vinegar (about 2-4 Tablespoons combined for the vinegars) then grind on some fresh pepper and salt, then a light sprinkle of cayenne..  Toss gently, then taste.  Adjust as needed.

Serves a crowd.