Recipe Testing: The Good, The Bad & The Tasty

set of tasty fresh vegetables and parsley with empty clipboard

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I challenged myself to write along with the community participating in #1000wordsofsummer to help kickstart a working draft of my food memoir and establish a regular writing routine. It is day eight and I have hit my goal every day.

The hard part of this has been facing the realization that most of the first draft of my book was trash. Jenny Bent was kind to me when she sent my rejection letter a decade ago…too kind. Most of my writing time these past eight days has been salvaging a sentence or two to bounce off and completely rewriting the rest. I had 90 pages plus another 42 of recipes to start. I am now at 22,739 words which is roughly 88 pages. I think I probably saved about 12 pages of original content and the rest is new. I feel good about where the narrative is going. It is much more raw and honest, but that is what it needed to be from the start. It is hard writing some of these moments though- it is a lot of me coming to terms with things I have pushed down for years.

Now that I have a good chunk of story, I need to get to work on recipes. I am terrible at writing down what I do in the kitchen. I sort of just throw things in, taste, adjust, serve. I need to make the recipes something a novice could follow successfully. My husband has gladly volunteered to be the tester 🙂 He will taste the product I make, give me feedback. then make it following my directions and compare the end products. He is a usability engineer so I am a lucky girl.

The list is lengthy. Follow along as we navigate recipe testing while #shelteringinplace with no escape from each other. First up: pickled vegetables and pimento cheese spread.

 

Cauliflower Pizza Smackdown: Green Giant vs. Caulipower

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I know we are in the midst of possible food shortages, and thinking about healthier choices is probably the last thing on people’s mind, but I just had my annual wellness visit complete with blood panels, and my cholesterol is a little worrisome. I have this amazing P.A. who explained to me it is not necessarily fat in our diet that is the culprit with cholesterol…it is the dreaded carbs. What is a baker, and wine drinker to do? He gave me three months to “fix” things. I am taking it seriously. One of our go-to meals is pizza. We love ordering pizza from our favorite local spot, and we also love to make it at home. Enter cauliflower crust.

I will say it was a little difficult to acquire both kinds, but I wanted to see and taste the difference before we committed to this change in our menu. The contenders? Green Giant and Caulipower. I bought the boxes that came with two crusts just in case they were too small. Nutrition-wise, they are pretty fungable. From straight numbers on the box it does not look like that, but you have to look at serving size.

Speaking of serving size, the Green Giant was significantly smaller. The crusts also came wrapped together rather than separately like the Caulipower. I like that you still have a crust in the cache that is protected from freezer burn. Caulipower wins for size and storability.

On the topic of texture, it is hard to say. This will be an individual choice. The Green Giant is softer and slightly more porous when baked. The Caulipower is crispy out of the oven- almost like a cracker crust. For me, it was the Caulipower. It absorbed less moisture from toppings and I could eat with my hands whereas the Green Giant I needed a fork.

Cook time and oven temperature are exactly the same. This one’s a draw.

Neither one tasted like homemade pizza dough, but I did not expect that. Overall, it is an easy swap out to help us be healthier. Now, if I could just stop baking 🙂

The Ingredients for Greek Pizza Night:

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That stuff in the tupperware is left over chickpea shawarma…use what is in your fridge, you won’t regret it!

 

 

Cooking in Quarantine: Sheet Pan Mojo Meatballs & the Ultimate Tostones

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Sheet pan dinners are super easy, but they can get boring if we are always roasting up chicken and vegetables. This week I went on a Cuban-inspired cooking spree. My family loves Cuban food. We mourned when our only Cuban restaurant in Roanoke shuttered its doors a few years ago. It was one of those places you could go enjoy tasty dishes like ropa vieja, cassava, and cilantro-forward black beans and rice. Miss that place. I blogged about my love of it in a previous post, Hot Time in Roanoke.

For this spin on sheet pan dinner, I went with mojo meatballs. A post from Bon Appetit inspired this meal. I didn’t stop there though- I made some scratch Tostones, and black beans and rice like Havana Cafe used to make. It was a little more labor-intensive than the usual sheet pan dinner, but so worth it! It does require some specialty items for the store, but you can help yourself by buying a bottled Mojo sauce- I like Badia.

Mojo Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅔ cup panko (You could also use any other type of breadcrumbs you have in the pantry)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ancho chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil,
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated if you have a microplane, otherwise finely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, minced (deseed if you want to lower spice level)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 vidalia onions, cut into wedges
  • dash of salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 500° and cover a sheet pan with foil
  • In a mixing bowl, combine pork, cilantro, egg, panko, spices, olive oil, grated garlic and minced serranos
  • Using your hands, mix until just coming together- don’t overwork the pork
  • Toss onions with 1 Tbsp. oil on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper
  • Roast in preheated oven until you see some brown charring, about 15 minutes
  • Remove onions from oven and spread to perimeter of pan. Form your meatballs, should be about 8, and place in center of pan
  • Roast until meatballs are firm to touch, about 15 minutes- you can temp if you want and pull at 165 degrees

Meanwhile as the meatballs are roasting, let’s get those tostones going….

Tostones

Ingredients:

  • 5 plantains (I like them pretty green)
  • Canola oil for frying
  • A large plate for smashing

Instructions:

  • Heat oil in a large, deep pan
  • Peel and cut plantains into 1-2 inch chunks

***Tip***To peel a plantain, cut off the ends and make a slit down the center of the peel. Crack that slit open and work your fingers down the body of plantain as skin separates from flesh.

  • Fry plantains in oil for about 3 minutes per side and remove to a paper towel
  • Using a plate, or other item at your disposal, smah down on plantains so they look like weirdly-shaped pancakes and return them to the oil for crisping
  • Flip after about 1 minute and immediately season with salt as you remove them (these are really good the first night, but a little tough the second night- they make a delicious hash)

Black Beans & Rice

I went the easy way on these since the tostones were a little time-consuming.

  • I like Rice Select products, and their Texmati rice is delicious. I made one serving of rice, and followed the directions on the container. You couold also use minute rice, riced cauliflower, or whatever you like best.
  • For the black beans, I am a Goya fan, but again use what you like. I opened a can, threw them in a microwave-safe bowl, and added 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon, dried cilantro, and 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder. I microwaved them for a minute, added salt and pepper and voila, easy black beans!

If you are feeling ambitious, you can make mojo sauce from scratch. I like this recipe. But, if you are not, buy yourself a bottle of Badia Mojo and drizzle over top of meatballs and BBNR…nom, nom!

Cooking in Quarantine: Sheet Pan Dinner

IMG_5762I know personally, I love cooking, but I am tired! Fatigue for me = sheet pan dinners 🙂 Hard to believe, but I have never tried Gochujang paste before. It is a Korean chili paste that is absolutely delicious! This week I tried out a sheet pan dinner with Gochujang as the season base. Luckily, I have some pretty adventurous eaters at home, and they were willing participants in my little experiment. I found inspiration for this in the NYT Quarantine Cooking series. Original recipe by Yawande Komolafe can be found here. I used root vegetables, but you could easily switch this out for brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, or whatever is coming out of all those abundant gardens sprouting up. This will serve 6 people or make a multi-night meal for 3.

 

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons Gochujang
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (this may be difficult if you do not have a microplane, you can just thinly slice)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces ( the original recipe calls for unpeeled, but I like to peel mine)
  • 1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • I bunch scallions, trimmed (I cut the white up until it started getting green to char on top and reserved the green ends for the pickle)
  •  4-6 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, drumsticks or breasts, patted dry

****Generally, I buy 1 full leg per adult, and add a couple of thighs in for the extra hungry

  • 1 bunch radishes, very thinly sliced (much easier with a mandoline, but a steady hand always works)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (this gives it a VERY earthy flavor, it is optional)

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Instructions:

  • Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Combine the gochujang, soy sauce, ginger and 3 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl or resealable bag.
  • Add the squash, turnips and scallion whites, toss to coat with glaze, or seal bag and shake to coat. Lightly season with salt and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Rinse and pat dry chicken. Season the chicken with salt and toss to coat in remainder of the glaze. Arrange the chicken pieces skin-side up between the vegetables on the sheet.IMG_5760
  • Roast until vegetables are tender, chicken is about 165 degrees, about 50 minutes. Turn on the broiler and crisp the chicken and veg until brown in spots- probably 5-10 minutes.
  • While the chicken cooks, thinly slice the scallion greens. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline, cut the radishes into thin rounds. In a small bowl, toss the sliced scallion greens and radishes with the rice vinegar and sesame oil, if using. Season to taste with salt and set aside to lightly pickle.
  • Top the roast chicken and vegetables with the quick-pickled scallion-radish mix and transfer to serving plates.

I used chicken, but I think this would be equally delicious with pork chops. As meat becomes scarcer, you could also try this out with tofu, or maybe even Halloumi. It is a little spicy, but totally tasty!

Stay Safe and Cook On!

Other Posts in the Quarantine Series:

Cooking in Quarantine: Easy Chocolate Orange Cake

I never use pre-made mixes…for anything…but in times like these, a girl has got to relent. My daughter loves my Tigerlily Cake- a mashup of orange and chocolate cakes topped with rich chocolate ganache. It is also one of my go-to potluck desserts because well, it’s super yummy!

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Originally I posted about this delicious cake when I made it for my department meeting before I retired. Now that Liv is home from college and sheltering in place with us, an opportunity to dust this one off presented itself. This time my supply pantry was getting a little sparse, and it seems everyone out there is looking for easy, quick desserts. I caved and bought a yellow cake mix and a dark chocolate cake mix.

I used Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix with a couple of hacks.

  • Swap out the liquid for fresh squeezed orange juice- I took me two oranges, and I used the zest in the batter for extra orangeiness.
  • Add one extra egg
  • Switch out melted butter for oil

Mix it up and pour into a nonstick bundt pan you have sprayed or buttered.

Now time for the chocolate cake. I used the Betty Crocker Super Moist Triple Chocolate Fudge mix.

Again, I modded it… a little. Also, I did not even rinse the standmixer bowl so the chocolate cake gets a boost of orange as well.

  • Add one extra egg yolk
  • Switch out melted butter for oil
  • Switch out milk for water

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The super easy, no special equipment method for chocolate ganache. All you need is a good-sized glass measuring cup 🙂 and a few ingredients.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Ganache

  • 12 oz. good chocolate (I like Ghirardelli Dark chips)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (adjust as needed for smooth consistency)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Put everything in the measuring cup and microwave. You just want the cream to warm and the chocolate to soften.
  • Stir and pour glaze over finished cake.

Here is the original post with from scratch recipes for when you have more time and supplies.

After a short trip to the store for ingredient acquisition, we donned our aprons and got to work. Tigerlily cake is a blend of two different cake flavors- orange and chocolate. Some people have aversions to this combo, but we love it. We mix up the orange cake first- it is really a fabby yellow cake with fresh squeezed orange juice substituted for the liquid and heaping teaspoons of orange zest. I do this one first because when you assemble, it goes in the pan first and there is the added bonus you can use the same mixing bowl and it will just lend the chocolate a complimentary profile. I adapted the wonderful yellow cake recipe I got from Smitten Kitchen for the orange cake. Liv did all the measuring and mixing while I prepped the pans with butter and preheated the oven. I love the way a kitchen smells when you zest an orange- fresh and reminiscent of walking the groves in Florida.

Ingredients:

Orange Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter one Bundt pan.
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4  teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 stick  unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of one large orange, fresh squeezed
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (zest over batter bowl to capture oils from peel)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I like Homestead Creamery)

Instructions:

  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  • At low speed, beat in buttermilk, orange juice and zest until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
  • Once you have that mixed up, pour into your prepared Bundt pan.

The orange cake is lighter and will rise to the top while baking. This will give the cake its flowery appearance with the two cakes colors merging.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake

  • 1  cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 stick  unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ( I like roasted Saigon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Instructions:

  • Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cayenne and salt in a separate medium bowl.
  • Using the paddle attachment for your mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until  fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla.
  • At low speed, beat in half the flour mixture. Alternate beating in the sour cream with the flour mixture until all is incorporated.
  • Layer into the Bundt pan by pouring around middle of orange batter. I like to use a chopstick to swirl the batter. The chocolate batter will immediately start to move to the bottom revealing the orange batter.
  • Bake for approximately 40 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine is old and finnicky so I check when we hit the 35 minute mark. You want it to rise so don’t be afraid. It is done when a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then invert onto your cake carrier to await ganache. After the cake is inverted, I like to squeeze another orange around the top of the cake. This adds that extra level of moistness and infuses more of the orange flavor throughout.

Now it’s time for the ganache. Ganache can be super easy as long as you pay attention to it. You don’t want to breakdown the chocolate so much that it becomes grainy. You want a smooth topping to spread on you luscious cake.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Ganache

  • 12 oz. good chocolate (I like Ghirardelli Dark chips)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (adjust as needed for smooth consistency)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Bring water to a boil in a double boiler.
  • Add chocolate to top of double boiler. Stir to ensure chocolate melts but does not seize.
  • Once the chocolate was pretty melty, add the heavy cream and cinnamon. Once it melds, remove from heat and allow to cool a couple minutes before ladling it on the cake.

Needless to say, the cake was enjoyed by all and Liv has one more recipe in her arsenal!

Note to self- get better at taking food photos!

Stay Safe and Cook On!

Other Posts in the Quarantine Series:

 

Cooking in Quarantine: Turkey Burgers, Tzatziki, and Tabbouleh

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I originally posted these recipes back in 2014 as part of a Greek Grill Fest. Now that we have the new grill and are still #stayinghome, I thought it was time for a reboot. The star of this meal imho, is the sidekick, Tabbouleh- though my son would drink the tzatziki sauce straight from the bowl.

Tabbouleh can actually be a main, as well as a delicious side for your grilling meal. It is a grain salad that makes the most of summer’s bounty from the garden. Ina Garten turned me on to this super side one Saturday morning while I binged Barefoot Contessa. I made some adjustments to her recipe that fit my family’s tastes, but you can find her original recipe here.

Tabbouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 cup bulghur wheat
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Place the bulghur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
  • Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.
  • Add the scallions, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes. Mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add feta and toss to combine. You can serve it right away, but I prefer to refrigerate it for a few hours and let the flavors meld.

As Ina would say, How easy is that?

 

From 2014: In my usual lots of forethought way, I chose yesterday to to create a grilled Mediterranean feast. It was not until the sky opened up and began to pummel us with fat rain drops that I realized the issue with my plan. Did I check the weather? No. Did I have alternate plans? No. Did I have any other groceries in the house to adjust my menu? No. So up went the canopy and out came the charcoal.

Not to be deterred, I jumped right into prep. First, I went ahead and boiled some water and juiced a couple lemons to steep the bulgur wheat- the superstar of tabbouleh. Then I turned to the turkey burgers. I started making these about eight years ago when we first jumped on the “let’s try to eat healthier” bandwagon. The problem with ground turkey is the lean quality of the meat, though good for you, lends itself to dry burgers. My  solution is to pack it full of all manner of moisture-adding ingredients. Onion is always a good choice except sometimes they are a little sharp. I use shallot instead. I also mince up some garlic add a little panko (fancy Japanese breadcrumbs) and some homemade pesto.

My crop of basil this year has been outrageous and some of it went to a concoction I call Redneck Pesto. I use it in any recipe that calls for pesto and as a an added bonus, it makes a great dip. As I form the burger patties, I try to leave a small indention in the middle because the burgers tend to balloon up some as they grill. Then they go to the fridge for about 30 minutes to get all married together.

Greek Turkey Burgers (makes 10 burgers ’cause you will want leftovers)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (fancy Japanese kind)
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons pesto (can be homemade or store bought)
  • 2 1/4 lbs. ground turkey (I like a mix of light and dark meat for moisture factor)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • dash of salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and be sure they are well combined. I usually form balls first and then hand form the burgers so I don’t overwork the meat.

***A note on the meat. Since we are starting to experience meat shortages as we ride out #Covid-19, you can sub about any meat- lamb, pork, beef…or you can go veggie! I have made these with chickpeas with great success!

  • Make sure to make that indention as you form them to help with the grilling. When they cook on the grill, they will pooch in the center and the indention alleviates that!
  • Chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Brush with olive oil before putting them on the grill. You want them to be fully cooked. Usually about 6 minutes on each side is good- depending on your grill type.
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See how they kind of are a bowl in center? That is what you are looking for!

As the burgers are chillin’, I make the tzatziki sauce. The wheat needs about 60 minutes to steep so I have plenty of time to turn my attention to other matters.

I am kind of a tzatziki snob. I hate going into restaurants, order a gyro and find the tzatziki is a sour cream, mint concoction that bears no resemblance to the traditional. Not that mine is completely traditional, but I believe in the traditions of draining your plain, Greek yogurt in a tea towel and squeezing every last bit of water of your still-chunky cucumbers. I have tried many variations of this recipe to try and find just the right texture and tanginess. I think the recipe below is as close to perfection for me. I can usually tell if it is right because my husband basically bathes everything in it and it is half gone by the end of dinner. The burgers and tzatziki were inspired by a recipe I saw in Cooking Light.

Tzatziki (this makes a large amount, be prepared with some pita chips)

Ingredients:

  • 1 container plain Greek yogurt ( I Iike the full fat variety)
  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Peel, seed and chop cucumber. Put the cuke slices in a tea towel and give them a good squeeze to remove any extra moisture. This is a necessary step if you want the thicker texture that authentic tzatziki sauces have.
  • Combine the yogurt, cukes, garlic and cayenne in a food processor. Pulse a few times. DO NOT LIQUEFY!!!!! You want a chunky texture. Drizzle in the vinegar and olive oil and pulse a few more times until all ingredients are combined. Taste and add salt and pepper until yummy!

With the tzatziki firming up in the fridge, I was ready to brave the elements and get to the grill. There was of course a pit stop for a glass of wine because grilling requires a glass of wine or a beer. I have certain ones I like when we grill and tonight was Coppola’s Rosso. Kind of light, fruit-forward and approachable- like a good friend.

As I exited the back door, the rain was so strong I could not see beyond my canopy refuge. Water was threatening to come flooding in any moment. My grill was not to be undermined though, it was going full smoke and ready for burgers. I brushed a little olive oil on each side and slapped the burgers on the grill. I find that the olive oil helps keep the burgers from sticking and also creates a barrier to keep the moisture in the meat.

It was a little easier this go around since I am living in the Sunshine State! I also added the Broccoli & Brussel Sprouts Slaw to this meal, and it was a yummy addition.

Stay Safe and Cook On!

Other Posts in the Quarantine Series:

 

 

Sensational Sides- Part One

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The Ingredients!!!

You know the sidekick never gets enough credit. It is always about the hero, the main attraction. I am here to give a little love to sides. We FINALLY got our grill assembled this week, so it was the perfect time for some recipe testing. First up is a raw salad that everybody I serve it to, loves! I got the original idea from Bon Appetit’s version found here. It is adaptable as far as which veg you use as long as they hold up well to a vinaigrette. I know there are still lots of food shortages with meat and fresh produce so, feel free to adapt with what you have. Gotta be flexible during a pandemic. This variation uses broccoli and brussels sprouts, but I have also used asparagus, snow peas, cabbage, and basically everything green 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of broccoli (you can use the stalks, but I prefer just the crowns)
  • 6 ounces brussels sprouts (I just buy one container and don’t worry about size)
  • 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets (I always include, but tell nobody, but it is optional, especially if you want a vegetarian option)
  • 4 ounces shredded or grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tblsp fresh lemon juice ( I juice 2-3 lemons)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove finely minced garlic

**If you don’t have or don’t like lemon juice in your dressing, you could sub red wine vinegar

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Look to slice about this size

Instructions:

  • Set up your food processor with the slicing attachment (You can do this by hand, but it is more labor-intensive).
  • Feed the broccoli florets into food processor until all are thinly sliced. Next repeat with the brussels sprouts.
  • Combine broccoli and brussels sprouts in a large bowl and toss with ½ tsp. salt. Let sit 10 minutes to soften slightly.
  • Rinse food processor and attach regular chopping blade. Pulse anchovies until chopped. Add garlic, 1/2 ounce parmesan, lemon juice, and olive oil to food processor bowl. Pulse until dressing emulsifies. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour over slaw and toss until coated. Add remaining parmesan and toss once more. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Look for more Sensational Sides this week!

Stay Safe and Cook On!

Other Posts in the Quarantine Series:

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.

Stay Safe and Cook On!

Other Posts in the Quarantine Series:

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!

Stay Safe and Cook On!

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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!

Stay Safe and Cook On!

Other Posts in the Quarantine Series: