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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Smoked Salmon Canape's


Smoked Salmon Canape's

These appetizers are quick, tasty, easy to prepare , and easy on the waistline.  I serve the smoked salmon dip on cucumbers, because I like crunch and taste, but you could also put it on crackers, (per request from husband, H).

Ingredients:
8 ounces fat free cream cheese or Tofutti Better than cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 Tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbls creamy horseradish (more if you like it a bit more spicy)
1 large shallot, minced
3 Tbls capers, rinsed and dried
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 English (seedless) cucumber, sliced into rounds
2 Tbls minced fresh dill, plus more for snipped garnish
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Just so you know: Tofutti has no butter fat, no milk; just soy and other good stuff.

When you're trying to cut down on fat and calories, you can go with the fat free / light/ soy substitutes, as long as you have big, powerful flavors to offset what can be bland tasting diet plate dishes. Like we have here with the salmon, capers, shallots, and horseradish.

Here's how it's done:
With your vegetable peeler, peel lengthwise slices of peel off of the cucumber, making stripes around it.
Slice the cucumber into rounds, approximately 1/2 - 1 inch thick. (It has to be thick enough to hold a spread). Lay the cuke slices out on a stack of paper towels and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Let this hang out for a good 20 minutes, blotting with dry paper towels as the moisture comes to the surface.
This does two things; first, it seasons the cucumber. Second, it helps eliminate some of the moisture in the cuke. If you put a dip or spread on top of an unsalted, wet cuke, it will slide right off. Probably into your lap. Or, your mother in law's lap. Or your boss's lap. No bueno.

While the cukes are giving up some of their excess water, get out your hand mixer and go to town on the spread. 
Chop up the smoked salmon into small pieces.
Rinse the capers under cold water and drain.
Thinly slice the green onions, on the diagonal, just because it looks pretty.
Mince the shallots.
Finely chop the dill.

Into a bowl, put the cream cheese, sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, dill, and shallots. Mix it up until smooth and creamy.
With a soft spatula, fold in the salmon, capers, and green onions.
TASTE and re-season, as necessary.
Line a bowl with a gallon size zip top bag.
Put the filling into the bag.
Zip it up, squeezing out the air. Now, snip off a corner of the bag so you can pipe the spread onto the cuke rounds.
If this step sends you into panic mode, no worries. You can skip it and simply spoon the spread onto the cukes.
If not panic stricken, go ahead and pipe some filling onto the now blotted dry cukes.

Top with fresh chopped dill, fresh cracked pepper, and serve.


Ingredients:
8 ounces fat free cream cheese or Tofutti Better than cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 Tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbls creamy horseradish (more if you like it a bit more spicy)
1 large shallot, minced
3 Tbls capers, rinsed and dried
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 English (seedless) cucumber, sliced into rounds
2 Tbls minced fresh dill, plus more for snipped garnish
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Method:
1. Peel lengthwise slices of peel off of the cucumber, making stripes around it. (Just because it's pretty).
2. Slice the cucumber into rounds, approximately 1/2 - 1 inch thick.
3. Lay the cuke slices out on a stack of paper towels and sprinkle with Kosher salt.
4. Blot cukes with dry paper towels as the moisture comes to the surface.
5. Chop up the smoked salmon into small pieces.
6. Rinse the capers under cold water and drain.
7. Thinly slice the green onions, on the diagonal.
8. Mince the shallots.
9. Finely chop the dill.
10. Put the cream cheese, sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, dill, and shallots into a bowl. With a hand mixer, mix it up until smooth and creamy.
11. With a soft spatula, fold in the salmon, capers, and green onions.
12. TASTE and re-season, as necessary.
13. Line a bowl with a gallon size zip top bag. Put the filling into the bag. Zip it up. Squeeze the air  out.     14. Snip off a corner of the bag.  Pipe the spread onto the cuke rounds.
15. Top with fresh chopped dill, fresh cracked pepper, and serve.




Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Clementine, Avocado and Pistacchio Salad

 Clementine, Avocado and Pistacchio Salad

Easy enough for everyday dinner; tasty enough for a holiday dinner. Clementines and avocados are in season, beautiful, and delicious. Pistachios are always welcome, and a delicious, nutritious, addition to any salad. Whip up a simple tangerine pomegranate vinaigrette, and you've got yourself  one heck of a delicious salad.


Let's start here, with the base.


 Lettuce. I like a blend of butter lettuce and arugula. But, you can use whatever you have on hand. Spring mix, spinach, etc. This is a salad that does well when the lettuce doesn't overpower the other ingredients. Softer lettuces work well.  Lay down a bunch of clean, dry greens.
Zest 2 clementines into a prep bowl. Just the orange part, please. White = pith. Pith = sour; no bueno, no good, makes you want to spit it out. 
Add 2-3 clementine tangerines, sectioned, into the salad bowl. (May sub Mandarin oranges).
Halve and seed 1 large avocado. Dice and add to salad bowl.
Thinly slice 2 shallots or 1/4 small red onion. Sprinkle over salad.
Crumble up 1/2 of a package of Boursin cheese over the salad. Any flavor.
Toss a big handful of roasted, salted pistachios over the salad.
Season with Kosher (or sea) salt, and fresh cracked pepper, and finish with the Clementine zest.

Vinaigrette: 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbls tangerine pomegranate vinegar (or raspberry vinegar, or pear vinegar, or heck, even some plain old sherry  or white wine vinegar).

Juice of 2 Clementines


Whisk


Slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil to emulsify dressing.



                                           Season with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

                 Taste!  If too tart, add a bit more olive oil,  or agave nectar or honey to taste. 
                       You  could also put all the ingredients in a jar and just shake it up.

Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad, and serve immediately. 
Dressed salad will not keep in the fridge. It will become a slimy mess overnight. If there are those at the table that do not want or like vinaigrette, serve the salad naked, and pass dressing on the side.

Ingredients:
1 head butter lettuce, washed and chopped
2 cups Arugula 
5 Clementines: 2 zested and juiced for dressing; 2-3 segmented into salad
1 large ripe avocado, chopped
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup roasted salted, shelled pistachios
1/2 package Boursin cheese, crumbled over salad
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Vinaigrette:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbls tangerine pomegranate vinegar (or raspberry vinegar, or pear vinegar, or sherry or white wine vinegar).
Juice of 2 Clementines
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
 If too tart, add a bit more olive oil,  or agave nectar or honey to taste. 


















Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not yo' Mama's Green Bean Casserole

French Green Bean and Wild Mushroom Casserole
Just in time for the holiday, it's time to re-think yo' momma's green bean casserole. Sure, it's super easy to open a few cans and put that hot mess in the oven. Let's take this traditional casserole to new heights with Haricots Verts, an assortment of beautiful wild mushrooms, shallots, and really yummy, creamy sauce.
Let's start with the beans. In the grocery store, or your  favorite big box giant, like Costco or Sam's, are these little French green beans, called haricots verts. (Pronounced "arico ver", like "very"). These gems are packaged in cellophane and ready to use. No prep needed. Just make sure to check the expiration date and look at the beans to ensure freshness. 
First, bring a big pot of salty water (we need to season every step of the way), to a rolling boil. Carefully add the beans to the boiling water. After the beans are in the pot, make a shock pot. Ice; water; Kosher salt (one real good pinch).
When the beans are bright green, fetch one out and taste it. If it's too tough, keep on boiling. We're going for crisp/tender here, not fibrous tough; not mushy mush. When tender to your liking, fish them out with a large spider. (Not the furry eight legged kind, just so you know).
Then plunge them directly into your shock pot.

Give them a stir. Then leave them alone in the icy bath.
When cool, drain them on a stack of paper towels.
Let's talk mushrooms. I kinda like some of the fancy schmancy shrooms out there, so I went with 1 pound total of oysters, cremini (baby portabellas), and Shitake. If you don't like or can't find the above, just slice up a pound of white button mushrooms. They'll be just fine.
Chop them up.
In a large skillet, (I like cast iron), heat up 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter.
When the skillet is hot, add the mushrooms, 2 large shallots (or 1/4 chopped red onion), a good pinch of Kosher salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Don't touch them, don't stir them until they have enough time to brown on the skillet side down. Then, you should stir them around. Not before. Thank you.
Saute the mushrooms until beautifully brown and caramelized. Throw in 2 cloves minced garlic and 1/4 tsp nutmeg while the mushrooms are getting really happy.
Add 2 Tbsp all purpose flour (I use whole wheat).

And whisk it up. We need to cook out the raw flour flavor without burning it. Cook for about 3 minutes on medium to medium high heat.
Whisk in 1 quart chicken stock. I used home made, but, box-o-stock will be just fine.
Throw in a few sprigs of fresh thyme tied up in a bundle, and just let it ride.

When smooth and thick, stir in 1/2 cup light sour cream. This is one of those dishes that you can go light and not sacrifice flavor. Fish out the thyme bundle.
Put your beans back in the skillet with the mushrooms. Fold it all together.
Grate up some parmigiano reggiano right over the top.

 Place in an oven safe casserole dish. Top with a big handful of French's French Fried Onions.

 Place in an oven safe casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until bubbly and golden.
 If you really want to go for the gusto, you could slice up some shallot rings, dunk them in seasoned flour, then fry them in oil until crisp, and top the casserole with that. Too much work and mess for me. French's work just fine.
Thank your Grandmama and mama for introducing you to a tasty holiday tradition. Then make it better.

Recipe
  • 1 1/2 pounds Haricots Verts, (If not available, use fresh green beans, trimmed and de-strung)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound mixed gourmet mushrooms, such as shiitakes, creminis and oyster, cleaned and quartered
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, tied up in a bundle
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1quart low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 big handful French fried onions
Method:
  1. Bring a big pot of salty water to a rolling boil. Carefully add the beans to the boiling water. 
  2. After the beans are in the pot, make a shock pot. Ice & water, & Kosher salt.
  3. Cook to desired tenderness.
  4. Plunge them directly into the shock pot.
  5. When cool, drain them on a stack of paper towels.
  6.  1 pound total mushrooms: oysters, cremini (baby portabellas), and Shitake. Chopped.
  7. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter.
  8. When the skillet is hot, add the mushrooms, 2 large shallots (or 1/4 chopped red onion), Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  9. Saute' the mushrooms until brown and caramelized. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and 1/4 tsp nutmeg while the mushrooms are browning.
  10. Add 2 Tbspb all purpose flour to the mushrooms. Whisk and cook about 3 minutes.
  11. Whisk in 1 quart chicken stock.
  12. When smooth and thick, stir in 1/2 cup light sour cream.
  13. Remove thyme bundle.
  14. Put beans back in the skillet with the mushrooms. Fold it all together.
  15. Grate 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano over the top.
  16.  Place in an oven safe casserole dish. Top with a big handful of French's French Fried Onions.
  17.  Place in an oven safe casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until bubbly and golden.







Saturday, November 26, 2011

Beef & Artichoke Crostini

 I made these simple crostini for an appetizer I brought over to my friend Margie's house for Thanksgiving. I used leftover prime rib that I made for my anniversary dinner, but any medium rare beef, thinly sliced, will work just fine. Heck, you could even stop by the deli for some sliced roast beef. The only ingredient I had to buy was a loaf of French bread. All the other ingredients are generally on hand in the fridge.
Here's what you need: (All measurements are approximate, as you really don't need to measure anything).
1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal
A few big garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup (or so) artichoke hearts from a jar, drained and buzzed up in a food processor or blender (Either marinated or plain; doesn't really matter)
1 container baby arugula, washed and spun dry
Prepared Horseradish cream
Parmesan cheese curls
I buy mega jars like this at Costco.
I like the pre-washed arugula. Saves me time.
Leftover beef. It's what's for dinner.


We could get all fancy schmancy here, grate our own horseradish, mix it with creme freche, etc.,  but that's not the point. We're going for easy, fast, and delicious.
And for the love of All That Is Holy, use real Parmesan cheese! (Or Manchego, or Pecorino,those would be delicious as well). Nothing from a can will do in this appetizer, or any other food for that matter, justice.

Here's how it's done:
  1. Toast up the bread. Both sides. I used my grill pan on top of the stove to get pretty grill marks. No grill pan? No grill? No problem. Put the bread slices on a sheet pan and broil for about 2 minutes on each side. Do not turn your back on the bread. Do not answer the phone, check your Email, or let the dog out. Your bread will burn as soon as you turn your back. It's a cosmic rule of nature. Trust me on this.
  2. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of a big knife. Rub the clove all over one side of the toasted bread. Do this to all of the bread slices. Then...
  3. Spread a thin layer of buzzed up artichoke hearts on each slice of bread. This will give the arugula something to stick to.
  4. Lay a handful of arugula on each of the bread slices.
  5. Lightly salt and heavily pepper. Freshly ground, please.
  6. Top each toast with some slices of beef. (Getting the picture? This is the assembly line at it's best. Better yet, recruit some help).
  7. Top the beef with a dollop of horseradish. 
  8. Top each toast with parmesan cheese curls. Use your vegetable peeler. Makes them pretty.
  9. If you have the time and the desire, you could heat these up in a warm oven (say, 350 degrees) for a few minutes. But it's not necessary.
  10. Place the crostini on a platter, sprinkle arugula over the whole tray, along with some sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  11. Prepare your thank you speech. Once your guests stop drooling and chewing, they'll thank you.

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Prime Rib Sandwich

    Path To The Draft Prime Rib Sandwich
    Hey Folks! Ever wonder what to do with that leftover Prime Rib, skirt, flank, New York strip, (or any other kind of) steak? The easy answer is: 
    A. Heat it up in the microwave, making it into a jerky type dish.
    B. Slice it up into a hearty salad. Not a bad choice.
    C. Slice it up, heat it up in some au jus, throw on some hearty cheese, smear some horseradish cream on a toasted roll, and serve to your husband, who has his bottom half glued to the couch watching "The Path To The Draft".  Or, the actual draft. I'm pretty sure that's what's happening right now on T.V. 
    The Royal Wedding will never make an appearance on our TV sets, as long as the Draft is on.
    So, for those of you who aren't in the know, this "Path to the Draft" thing,  is comprised of all of the college players in the entire universe hoping to be drafted to an NFL team. All expect to make millions of dollars, while, at the present time,  the NFL owners are locking them out.  It's kind of like being chosen for the P.E. class softball team..."Pick me. Pick me!"  Only this is worth a lot more money and a lot less humiliation. And it's all televised. For hours and hours and hours and days and weeks... and weeks...
    So, for this great white knuckler event, we're making a sandwich. With leftovers. He won't notice. Until he takes a bite, and utters, "This is delicious!"
    Here's how it's done: 
    1. Thinly slice any and all leftover (preferably rare) roast beef. Set aside.
    2. Peel and thinly slice 1 giant onion. 
    3. In a cast iron skillet, melt a couple  (2) Tablespoons butter over med/low heat.
    4. Put the onions in the skillet. Give it a good sprinkle of Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.    Brown for about 20 minutes. We're going the low & slow route to create sweet, beautiful, brown onions to top our sandwich. Turn off the heat when onions are soft and brown.
    5. While the onions are cooking, put your leftover Au Jus in a deep skillet. No Au Jus? Pop open a can of Campbell's Beef consomme and pour it right in the skillet. Heat it up to a simmer.
    6. Now, melt a few tablespoons butter on a sheet pan in a 425 degree oven. When the butter is melted, split your French rolls in half, and place the inside piece of each side onto the hot sheet pan, into the butter. Place the sheet pan back in the oven for about 3-4 minutes. This will toast your rolls all at once.
    While the butter is melting, thinly slice some cheese. I used Manchego, because I love its beautiful, earthy, saltiness. You can use Parmigiano, Mozzarella, Gouda, or Fontina. Anything you like. Please, in the name of all that is holy, do not use "processed cheese food".

    Now, place all that beautiful beef into the skillet with the simmering Au Jus, Consomme or beef broth. Turn the heat off. We don't want to cook the beef further. We simply want to warm it up gently. Just let it rest in the warm liquid.
    Let's put this sammy together.
    Place your toasted roll half bottoms back on the baking sheet.
    Schmear the roll with horseradish cream sauce.

    Pile it up with the warmed beef strips.
    ,Followed by some cheese slices.
    Followed by a big pile of onions.
    And top it off with a top bun schmeared with a hearty helping of creamy horseradish sauce. Yes. That is my pinkish/purplish I Phone in the background. A girl's gotta work, right?
    Put the top on, give it a little smush, and put in a 425 degree oven for 2 minutes.
    Cut this sammy loveliness in half, and serve with small bowls of Au Jus for dipping.
    And expect to be drafted in the next draft. Or maybe just drafted to prepare sustenance for the draft watchers next year.

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    About Me

    Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
    I'm a home cook that can put some good tasting food on the table, most of the time. My family knows dinner is ready when the fire alarm goes off.