Cooking in Quarantine-It’s Cobblering Time!

The berries are abundant. We have no yeast. It’s time for a quick, use any fruit, simple ingredient cobbler recipe! My husband bought me Genius Desserts a couple years ago, and I cracked it open last week for some inspiration. Inside was the life-changing Meme’s Blackberry Batter Cobbler. It is so easy and so versatile! You literally can use any fruit you have on hand. I made it with a blackberry-blueberry combo last week, but this time I could not resist the strawberries and rhubarb at the store…mmmm…tastes like summer!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 4 cups fresh berries- I just filled a large measuring cup of what I wanted to try
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more for berries
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream (use whole milk if you don’t have cream)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

 

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INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place berries in a large bowl. Sprinkle some sugar over top to get the juices running. You may want to mash them slightly with your spatula if they are very firm.
  • Melt butter in a large cast iron skillet or ovenproof baking dish in the oven.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add heavy cream/milk and vanilla extract; mix until well combined.

 

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  • Remove baking dish with melted butter from oven. Pour melted butter into flour mixture, and stir.
  • Pour batter into baking dish and mound berries into center of batter- do not mix in or spread out.
  • Transfer dish to oven and bake until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the batter comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

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Cooking in Quarantine: A Few of My Favorite Things

If nothing else, this time in isolation has allowed me to reconnect with some of my favorite products and recipes.

First up: Harissa Paste IMG_5546

There are a number of brands out there, but in my opinion, this is the best. Harissa is a North African paste of blended chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, and aromatic spices like cumin and coriander. New York Shuk is not spicy, just super flavorful. My local Fresh Market carries it, but you can also order it here.

It is extremely versatile as a marinade, addition to burger patties, salad dressing ingredient, and pretty much anything 🙂

I made Food and Wine’s Rosy Harissa Chicken the other night using New York Shuk as my base. I mixed it with whole greek yogurt and marinated the chicken overnight…it was a good choice. I did omit the rose petals and just used smoked paprika as the drub seasoning. It was juicy and delicious!

Next Up: Gremolata

It sounds fancy, but really it is some fresh herbs, lemon zest, and olive oil at its base. I really like the one Food and Wine does with its Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder recipe. It adds in apple cider vinegar, grated garlic clove, and crushed red pepper- I think these help make the gremolata the perfect accompaniment for anything from slow-roasted meats to whole fish.  I made the lamb recipe above, but subbed in pork roast since TFM was out of lamb. You could also do this with a chuck roast or whole roasted chicken and it would be equally delicious.

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Bringing up the Rear: Whole Roasted Fish

Daunting, right? Not really, if you have a good fish monger. I love Buddy Gandy’s Seafood in Panama City, Florida. They are a short drive across the bridge for me, and worth every minute. The catch is always fresh, and the people that work there know fish. I purchased a beautiful whole red snapper and asked them to clean, and scale it. In less than five minutes I had a perfect fish for roasting.

As you can see, I cut some slits in the flesh and stuffed them with flat leaf parsley, lemon, and garlic. I lined a sheet pan with parchment paper, threw some cherry tomatoes, lemon wheels, and brussels sprouts on and then baked it all at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Easy dinner!

All three of these are very versatile and require little prep. Step out and try something new while we are all #stayinghome!

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Cooking in Quarantine: Keto-Friendly Zucchini Rollatini

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Comfort food seems to be a staple during this time of isolation, but too much comfort can lead to a sweatpants-only wardrobe if you aren’t careful 😉 This recipe alleviates some of the carbs without sacrificing the comfort…and it is keto-friendly for all you brave souls trying to maintain this lifestyle while staying at home.

This is an adaptation of Valerie Bertinelli’s rollatini recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large zucchini (could also use summer squash or eggplant)
  • 1 cup ricotta (I like whole milk, but if you are watching calories, opt for skim)
  • 1 tblsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used Classico Fire Roasted Pepper and Garlic )
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Trim the ends off of the zucchini and slice lengthwise on a mandoline (If you do not have a mandoline, you can hand slice…just try to approximate thickness of a lasagna noodle). You can quick blanch these if you want them more pliable, but I used them raw.
  • Stir the ricotta, basil, oregano, and 3/4 cup mozzarella together in a bowl with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Beat in the egg to incorporate.
  • Saute spinach and garlic with olive oil over medium heat until spinach wilts
  • Lay the zucchini slices out on a work surface. Spread a thin layer of ricotta filling on each slice, spoon some of spinach mixture on top of cheese and roll the zucchini up. Meanwhile, pour half of your jar of sauce in a 13×9 baking dish. Arrange zucchini roll-ups seam-side down, over the sauce. Repeat until all zucchini are in pan.IMG_4393
  • Spread rest of sauce over top zucchini and sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan over top. Bake until the center is bubbling and the cheese is golden in spots, 20 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Prepare for the ooey-gooey, deliciousness- you won’t even miss the pasta!

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Cooking in Quarantine: Classic Posole

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In honor of my daughter finally coming home from college, I am making her favorite…posole! I found this recipe originally in a Bon Appetit magazine and made some adjustments. Liv has been marooned in Hawaii at school since the stay at home orders started. At first it seemed dangerous to put her in the air travel system when there was such congestion at the airport. Then Hawaii seemed safer because of their low infection numbers and robust testing. Then the 14 day quarantine on travel set in. Unfortunately, now flights are so scarce that she will have to go through two different airports on the way home- Seattle and Atlanta. At least she will have some yummy comfort food when she gets home 🙂

Ingredients:

PorkIMG_5206

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 4-5-pound boneless Boston butt
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • Mexican lager of choice (I like Dos Equis)

Posole

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, diced (heirlooms have been lovely lately, but use what you find)
  • 1 poblano pepper, rough chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I like Kitchen Essentials brand)
  • 1 28-ounce can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 28-ounce can white hominy, drained & rinsed
  • 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1 can rotel (not hot, just regular…trust me)
  • 1 tblsp oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin

Toppings

  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • sliced fresh green cabbage
  • thin-sliced radishesIMG_5213

Instructions:

Pork

  • Preheat oven to 275°. Mix cumin, garlic powder, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Rub spice mix all over pork. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork in large dutch oven and cover with sliced onion. Pour 6 oz of beer in the bottom of pan. Cover pan,  roast 5–6 hours, or until pork is falling apart tender.

  • Remove pork from dutch oven and allow to rest. At this point, mine is usually falling apart when I touch it, but if yours is still firm, use either two forks or a good chef knife to shred it.

Posole

  • Put the dutch oven on a burner over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté until it softens. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant. Add the diced fresh tomatoes and stir until softened. Stir in broth and next six ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  • Add pork to posole. Simmer uncovered 30 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with cilantro, sliced cabbage, sliced radishes, and lime wedges.

**Sometimes I make cheese quesadillas to dip in this and it is so delicious, but this hearty soup is great on its own as well! 

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Cooking in Quarantine- Simple Sticky Buns

I have been dying to bake some sticky buns for a couple of weeks, but yeast has been non-existent in the stores. I know everybody is baking bread, but jeez! I found this riff on sticky buns in one of my Ina Garten books, added a couple of twists, and I may never need yeast again…This is seriously as easy as it gets for a sticky bun recipe.

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Gooey Deliciousness!

Ingredients: IMG_5485

Buns-
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (original called for light, but I have not been able to buy it for over a month)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
Filling-
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin pan on a baking sheet  lined with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Put one scoop of the mixture in each muffin cup, evenly distributing. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

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  • Lightly flour a surface- I used my countertop. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Combine brown sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle each sheet with 1/2 of mixture. Spread the chopped dates across the sheets.
  • Roll up the pastry sheets as tightly as you can, finishing with the seam side down. Trim the ends and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper. You will probably need to use a spoon to gather the filling still in the cups and redistribute on top of buns.

My husband mistakenly grabbed them a little too quickly and burned his tongue…it will be hard, but you may want to let them cool slightly 🙂 Yum, Yum!

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Baking with Booze

Now that we no longer know what day it is, seems fitting to bring some booze into the recipes. This week I took a family favorite, Clafoutis, and gave it a makeover with a few different types of fruit and alcohol. I know the name sounds fancy, but it is really just a French custard cake made with seven ingredients. I adapted my mother recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

 

Ingredients:IMG_5427

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsps unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsps liqueur of choice (I have tried Rum, Frangelico, Amaretto)
  • 2 generous cups fruit of choice (I have tried apples, peaches, blueberries, cherries)

**Tip** DO NOT USE CITRUS FRUIT…it will curdle your batter

**Tip2**Gird your loins if you pick cherries…pitting is not for the faint of heart

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 400. Beat the sugar and eggs together with a whisk or in a stand mixer with whisk attachment, until they lighten in color. Gradually add butter, beating to incorporate.
  • Add the flour and salt all at once and whisk until the batter is combined. Next, slowly pour in the cream. Add the booze of choice, mixing well. The batter should be very smooth and shiny. Detach your bowl if using a stand mixer and move it to the fridge. the batter needs to rest 30 minutes before baking.
  • Meanwhile in a separate bowl, mix your fruit and liqueur together to macerate (fancy word for how the fruit absorbs the liqueur). Depending on fruit I add a few other ingredients to this party. For example, brown sugar and cinnamon for apples. Use your judgement and what you like.
  • Arrange half of your fruit in a buttered glass or earthenware baking dish, cake pan (9 or 10 inches in diameter) or skillet that can go in the oven. (I used a 9-inch cake pan.)
  • Remove your batter from fridge and add the liqueur left in fruit bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour the batter over the fruit. Arrange the rest of fruit on top of batter.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until slightly browned and almost completely set in the middle. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Stay Safe and Bake On!

 

Best Caprese Salad Ever

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I love Ina Garten. She really is a kitchen goddess. Her Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad changed my life, at least for a meal. This is my take on her recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds (not cores) removed
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces fresh salted mozzarella
  • fresh basil leaves, julienned- I use 2 oz, which is a lot
  • box of arugula or your fave green

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. This is where Ina and I diverge. She does low and slow, but I just didn’t have time for that.
  • Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan covered in foil, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Spread chopped garlic evenly over tomatoes. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
  • Roast for 1 hourish until the tomatoes begin to caramelize. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Snapseed
  • Cut the mozzarella into 1/4 slices. Layer the tomatoes alternately with the mozzarella on a platter and scatter the basil on top.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Mound about a 1/4 cup arugula on plate and spoon some caprese on top.
It will be warm. It will be yummy.

Roasted Tomato Caprese

Cooking in Quarantine- Cookies & Curry in a Hurry

Sometimes you just don’t want to spend hours building a curry from scratch. Sometimes you don’t want to spend hours tweaking the perfect from scratch cookie recipe. Sometimes you just want a recipe on the back of a package and a jar of sauce. That sometimes came for me this week.

In the spirit of cooking from the pantry, I decided to go with just jarred sauce, frozen vegetables, and rice for dinner. This is not ideal, but is quick.

Easy Vegetable Korma

Ingredients:
  • 1 jar of your fave Korma sauce (I used Patak’s, but actually like Saffron Road better)
  • 1/2 bag of frozen peas
  • ~10 oz frozen California vegetable blend (I have a crazy big bag and used 1/4 of it)
  • 1 cup Jasmati rice (I like Rice Select, but use whatever brand and variety you have)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  • Heat olive oil in large pan
  • Add vegetables and peas and cook until somewhat softened
  • Add entire jar of sauce and bring to a simmer
  • Allow to simmer over low heat until vegetables are soft and everything is heated through
  • Meanwhile, make the rice…combine rice and water in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutesish, covered
  • Serve the Vegetable Korma over the rice…super easy and takes about 20 minutes total from pantry to plate

**You can easily add protein to this, if you want. In this iteration I added a chicken breast which I cut up and sauteed in the oil before adding the veg.

With such an easy dinner prep, it makes sense to make a little yummy for dessert…especially if it is is super easy like dinner 🙂

Tollhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am not even going to write out the directions because you need to just follow the directions on the back of the package…seriously. Make sure you have flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, baking soda, butter and vanilla extract. No reason to reinvent the wheel when it is already perfect!

TIP***Baking often requires fats to be cold for optimal results. Cookie batter can get warm as you are waiting for a batch to finish before you put another in. Keep your batter cold by putting it in the fridge in between batches. I do this for everything that requires cold fats to achieve fluffy yumminess.

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Cooking in Quarantine: Easy Apple Cake

You gotta love a cake you can mix in one bowl, dump batter in pan and bake, almost without fail, perfectly. I give you my favorite Apple Spice Cake w/Caramel Glaze.

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Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • dash salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dk. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 large granny smith apples, peeled & chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Glaze:

  • 1/2 stick butter (4 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dk. brown sugar

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 10 in. bundt pan.
  • In a stand mixer, beat together sugars and oil for cake until combined. Add eggs and vanilla on low speed, scraping down bowl as needed.
  • Add flour, baking soda, spices, and dash salt to stand mixer. (I know, every recipe says mix separately and combine ingredients one at a time, but I have tried both ways with same result- this is EASIER.)
  • Once batter is smooth, shut mixer off and grab a silicone spatula. Add the apples and walnuts and fold into batter with spatula. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.

***Do not skip on thoroughly buttering and flouring pan. The ease of release once baked will be your reward 🙂

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  • Bake the cake for ~70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. This gives you time to make the glaze and for the cake to settle for easy release.

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  • In a small saucepan, combine the ingredients for the glaze. Bring to a boil, stirring for a smooth consistency. Boil about 3 minutes or until it begins to thicken- keep stirring. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. 
  • Center your serving platter over the top of bundt pan, and invert.

 

I usually take a butter knife and tap the pan just for good measure. Lift the pan and behold the beauty!

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  • The last step is to pour glaze over the finished cake. I do this very slowly to ensure good coverage.

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Cooking in Quarantine: Easy Mu Shu Pork

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Grocery shopping every two weeks takes some planning. Mu Shu Pork is one of my family’s fave dinners so I made some adjustments to keep this a simple, use-what-you-have-on-hand meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. pulled pork (I supported Back Beach BBQ again and tipped 20%)IMG_5332
  • 3 tbsp. Hoisin sauce
  • 10 oz. mushrooms (I used shitake)
  • 1 red pepper, julienned (not necessary, but I had one that needed to be used)
  • bag slaw mix (you can chop cabbage and carrots, but the bag is cheap & easy)
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, diced

**I had some ginger root and garlic that needed to be used so I grated the ginger and minced the garlic)

Prep:

  • Heat oil in large in large pan (I use a stir fry pan)
  • Add mushrooms and cook until they soften and start to brown
  • Add garlic, ginger, peppers, coleslaw mix & Hoisin
  • Once veg begins to soften and wilt, add pork and heat through
  • Give it a taste & add salt or more Hoisin if needed

IMG_5334This makes enough for at least two dinners for a couple (it went three nights for me).

The Mu Shu needs a vehicle for serving. I like Bibb Lettuce so it mimics lettuce wraps, but you could also make Mu Shu tacos with tortillas or you can buy the traditional pancakes at a local Chinese restaurant, in the freezer section of some grocery stores or Asian markets.

Or, you can make your own if you want to give it a go. Here is a recipe I like.

 

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