Friday, October 30, 2009

Winter Minestrone

This soup is soul satisfying and full of winter greens. Since this soup has to cook slowly don't worry about prepping all your vegetables before you begin-just chop as you go.

Winter Minestrone
Serves 8
Recipe from Gourmet
1/3 lb. sliced pancetta, chopped
3 medium red onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch swiss chard
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice
3 qt hot water
5 cups coarsely chopped cored Savoy cabbage (6 oz)
5 cups coarsely chopped escarole (1/2 lb)
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
1 (19-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Accompaniments: extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling; cooked ditalini pasta tossed with oil (optional);grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Cook pancetta, onions, celery, and carrots in oil in a wide 7-to 9-qt heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, while preparing chard.
2. Cut out stems from chard and chop stems, reserving leaves. Stir chard stems into pancetta mixture with garlic, 1 tsp salt, and 3/4 tsp pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and begin to stick to bottom of pot (about 45 minutes).
3. Push vegetables to one side of pot. Add tomato paste to cleared area and cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes. ( Paste may stick to pot, but don't let it burn).
4. Stir into tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up with a spoon,then add hot water (3 qt), scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot.
5. Bring to a simmer. Stir in cabbage, escarole, and parmesan rind. Simmer, covered, until greens are tender, about 40 minutes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Prosciutto-Wrapped Greens

This is a great appetizer! So easy and so good, these pretty bundles can be assembled in minutes.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Greens
Serves 8
(Recipe from fine cooking)

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 lb. mesclun or arugula, washed and spun dry
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2Tbs. freshly grated ground black pepper
2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
12 thin slices proscuitto

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard. Put the mesclun or argula in a medium bowl and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. add the Parmigiano to the greens and gently toss with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly. Taste for salt and pepper.
Set a slice of prosciutto on a work surface and put a small handful of greens at the narrow end of the meat. Squeeze the greens together and roll the proscuitto into a tight log. Cut the log into 2-inch pieces on the diagonal (two or three pieces, depending on the width of the proscuitto). Repeat with the remaining proscuitto and greens and serve.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Water is for Ducks

This month we joined our wine loving friends for our monthly wine club event. The focus this evening was discovering Washington State wines.
Washington State is the second-largest fine wine producing state next to California. Oregon is third. Many of the quality Washington State wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, and at half the price of a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Need I say more? For those of you who enjoy a good Cabernet Sauvignon, I encourage you to explore these wines. You will not be disappointed.
Here are some food highlights from our wine tasting evening.

Baked Italian Style Meatballs

Grilled Shrimp

Rolled Flank Steak Stuffed with Cheese and Spinach

Baked Mozzarella Mini-Tarts


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Panko-Coated Chicken Schnitzel

"Pounding chicken breasts to  a uniform thickness cuts down on cooking time"
-Thomas Keller of the French Laundry

15 minutes-Serves 4
Recipe from Food and Wine

1 cup flour
3 beaten eggs
2 cups panko, in separate bowls
1/4 cup canola oil
6 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons capers
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Season four 1/4-inch-thick skinless, boneless chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, dip in the eggs and coat with the panko. Fry the chicken in 1/4 cup canola oil, then drain. In a saucepan, cook 6 Tablespoons butter until browned. Stir in 2 teaspoons capers, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and 1 Tablespoons chopped parsley; spoon over chicken and serve.

Served with sauteed asparagus.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

I have never met anyone who did not love macaroni and cheese. There is simply nothing more comforting or soul satisfying than a dish of macaroni baked in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce covered in a crusty layer of baked cheese.

Macaroni and cheese it is said had its origins in China and was brought to Italy by Marco Polo.  In the eighteenth century, this dish in one form or another became popular in Europe and the colonists from England brought along their recipes to North America.  If the folklore is correct, this dish became popular after it was served during a White House dinner under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson in 1802. Since then, recipes for various versions of macaroni and cheese appeared in many American cookbooks and remain a mainstay today, on American dinner tables.

The simplicity of this dish is only part of its charm.  I don't need anything fancy like imported ham or cheeses, or a bit of truffle to place a smile on my face. The basic macaroni and cheese dish is still the best hands down.

My personal favorite is a Paula Deen version that is creamy, cheesy and just plain delicious. It is also just plain fattening! Paula does not hold back on the butter, cream and cheese. The problem for me is that I can't control my portion when eating macaroni and cheese. I always seem to be returning for just one more bite.

I have been enjoying a new food blog called Cookin Lean Like Paula Deen
Lindsay has been taking on the task of creating lighter versions of the fabulous Paula Deen's recipes. Lindsay tackled Paula's recipe for Creamy Macaroni and Cheese and I could not resist trying this recipe out for myself. The results were excellent. Lindsay does a really good job of keeping the creamy, cheesy texture alive while reducing the amount of fat and calories. I am now replacing my traditional Paula Deen recipe with Lindsay's lighter version.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
 (Adapted from Paula Deen)
4 cups cooked Whole Wheat elbow macaroni, drained
16 oz  1 % milk fat cottage cheese
4 egg whites, beaten
1/2 cup fat free or light sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup low fat milk
16  oz Velveeta Cheese, cut into cubes
Shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. After the macaroni has been boiled and drained, add Velveeta cheese,  cottage cheese, egg whites, sour cream and salt to the hot pasta and mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Pour into casserole dish, top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.
Bake for 30-45 minutes.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Carrot Cabbage Slaw with Cumin Vinaigrette

I am not sure where my autumn breeze went! The Fall season was teasing me. No matter, it is Fall and this is a perfect Fall salad recipe. This is a wonderful crisp cabbage, carrot slaw scented with cumin.  A low fat, low calorie and high-fiber dish.

Carrot Cabbage Slaw with Cumin Vinaigrette
(serves 6)
Note: Recipe from Gourmet
2-1/4 lb. carrots
2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
1 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted ( note: I  used dried cumin)
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced ( about 6 cups)

An adjustable blade slicer fitted with 1/8 inch julienne attachment

1. Pick enough fronds from the carrot tops to measure 1 cup, then coarsely chop.
2. Cut carrots crosswise into 2-inch pieces, then julienne with a slicer.
3. Whisk together vinegar, brown sugar, cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.
4. Toss cabbage, carrots, chopped carrot tops in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Let stand 30 minutes before serving.