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Archive for May, 2012

Deliciously savory and simply to prepare.  This dish is perfect to use up the bounty of spring/summer basil for the pesto recipe, but storebought pesto is just dandy.  If you don’t typically toast your pine nuts or roast your garlic for homemade pesto, I recommend trying it once.  The flavors are completely transformed.  The original recipe calls for evaporated milk in the sauce, but we didn’t have any on hand.  Would be interested to see how the sweeter milk would fare.  Next time….

Salmon Pesto Pasta, from Crumbly Cookie

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

8 ounces pasta
12 ounces salmon
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 ounces milk or cream or evaporated milk
1/2 cup pesto (recipe follows or use store-bought)
Additional vegetables (I used spinach and broccoli), optional
grated parmesan, optional for serving

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; stir to separate pasta. Cook pasta until al dente; drain. Pour milk into empty pot and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/2. Add cooked pasta to pot and stir to combine.
  2. Ajust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Line a baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil. Season skinless side of salmon liberally with salt and pepper, sprinkle with zest, then rub with olive oil. Broil until salmon is no longer translucent and is firm when pressed, about 10 minutes. Remove from broiler and sprinkle with lemon juice. Use fork to flake into bite-sized pieces. Skin will stick to foil and can be discarded.
  3. Add salmon to pasta mixture and stir over medium heat until hot. Remove from heat and stir in basil and any vegetables, if adding.  Top with parmesan, if desired.

Pesto, adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients

Makes ½ cup

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (or substitute almonds or walnuts)
5 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed thoroughly
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, Italian (optional)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch table salt
¼ cup (½ ounce) finely grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Toast nuts in small heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade.
  2. Add the unpeeled garlic to empty skillet and toast until, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and the color of the cloves deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Let the garlic cool, then peel and add to food processor bowl.  (Alternately, you can also roast your garlic.)
  3. Place basil and parsley in heavy-duty, quart-size, zipper-lock bag; pound with flat side of meat pounder until all leaves are bruised.
  4. Process nuts and garlic until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients except cheese; process until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down bowl with flexible spatula.
  5. Transfer mixture to small bowl, stir in cheese(s) and adjust salt. (Can be covered with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly over the surface or filmed with oil and refrigerated up to 5 days.)

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Corn is one of my husband’s favorite vegetables – probably because it is so sweet and starchy.  We love it all forms – creamed, on the cob, and, of course, popped.  We often buy it bulk because I like to use it to sweeten my stocks and soups.  This is a quick, refreshing side salad for springtime – good as a relish on some fish tacos or served alongside your choice of protein.

Fresh Corn Salad

Instructions

5 ears of corn, shucked
1/2 cup small-diced red onion (I used white and cooked it)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves, parsley or cilantro leaves (depends what mood you are in or what’s in the fridge)

Directions

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.
  2. Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

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Have I told you that getting Rice Kernel to eat lunch is like pulling teeth?  I reckon it’s because he gets a snack at school around 10 or 10:30.  Leaves me no hope of feeding him a “real” lunch at noon.  So he subsists on cheese, popcorn or crackers, and fruit around the noon hour.  Snacks, basically. Doesn’t make me the happiest but I can’t put the brakes on snacktime eating and socializing.

On weekends, FHE and I don’t offer a mid-morning snack.  Yes, we are cruel in that way.  But, seriously, we want the boy to learn to eat real meals at mealtime.  On a recent Saturday, Rice Kernel announced he wanted strawberry pancakes for lunch.  A rarity in our house since FHE usually prefers traditional lunch items like sandwiches or smaller portions of dinner-like options at lunchtime.  FHE isn’t picky though and with a baby fussing at my hip while FHE was called away on an emergency at work, Rice Kernel and I whipped these up in a jiffy.  Sweet and satisfying, I think all that was missing was perhaps a few pieces of crispy bacon throw in the batter or a side of ham or sausage for the meat lovers in our house. 

Strawberry Pancakes

Instructions

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour or flour of your choice (I used half spelt, half white whole wheat with a touch more liquid)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar or agave
Slightly less than 1 tbsp baking powder (yes, these are fluffy)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk (low-fat is fine) or milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, or neutral oil
1-2 cups sliced strawberries
Pure maple syrup, for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Preheat a nonstick griddle over medium heat.
  2. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir in the melted butter or oil. The batter should be thick and smooth. Fold in the strawberries (or top them on the pancakes once they are in the griddle.)
  3. Spoon the batter onto the griddle 1/4 cup at a time. Cook the pancakes until set and thoroughly bubbly, about 3 minutes. Flip them with a spatula and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

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The taste of Asian takeout made easy with this speedy, at-home stir-fry.  Inspired by Korean jap-chae, you can use traditional sweet potato starch noodles, cellophane noodles or thin rice noodles.  
 
Stir-Fry Cellophane Noodles
 
 
Ingredients
 
3 oz. sweet potato starch noodles, bean threads (cellophane noodles) or thin rice noodles
1/4 cup canola or peanut oil
3 Tbs. soy sauce
1-1/2 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
1-1/2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
1/2 lb. flank steak, pork, chicken or firm tofu (we went vegetarian tonight)
Kosher salt
Your choice of vegetable, such as 1 small zucchini (about 6 oz.), halved and thinly sliced crosswise into half circles, 1 cup bean sprouts or 1 cup sliced cabbage
1 cup matchstick-cut or grated carrot (1 large carrot)
1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced crosswise into half circles
1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds, optional
 
Directions
  1. Bring a 3-qt. pot of water to a boil. Add the bean threads or rice noodles, remove from the heat, and let sit until just softened (they should still be plenty toothy), about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse well under cool, running water. Toss with 1 Tbs. of the canola or peanut oil, and spread out on a tray or large plate.
  2. NOTE: My preferred method of cooking bean threads (cellophane noodles) is to cook them in chicken stock for 3-5 minutes.   Then I toss in 1-2 tsp of olive oil and set aside.  Add enough chicken stock so that the noodles seem slightly soupy.  They will absorb the additional liquid as they sit. 
  3. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and brown sugar. Trim the beef of excess fat and slice it thinly across the grain. Cut the slices into 2-inch pieces. Season the beef with salt.
  4. Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the canola or peanut oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet or large stir-fry pan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until it loses most of its raw appearance, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large plate.
  5. Add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. oil and the vegetables to the pan. Cook, stirring, until they start to soften, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the beef and the noodles. Stir the soy mixture and drizzle it over all. Cook, tossing until everything is evenly coated with the sauce and the vegetables are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the sesame seeds, if desired.

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A chewy, thick cookie with texture and nuttiness.  Simple flavors that are always delicious with a glass of milk.

This recipe yields about 2 1/2 dozen and with less butter than most recipes, they tend to harden faster.  You can freeze the dought and bake them off in batches or freeze the final product to retain some softness. 

Oatmeal Scotchies

1/2 cup butter, softened + 3 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (if you are using AP flour, reduce this amount to 1 1/4 cups total)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 2/3 cups (approximately 11 oz) chips (mint, butterscotch, chocolate)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth and almost fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugars and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth again.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients except the chips. Gradually add this mixture to the wet ingredients, half at a time. Stir until fully combined. Add the chips and stir well.
  3. I used a medium size cookie scoop (about a tablespoon in size) to drop the dough onto a large baking sheet lined with a silpat mat. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Remove from the oven before the cookies are browned and when they still look soft in the center. Let them cool on the same tray for 5-10 minutes; this will allow them to finish baking without overcooking.
  4. When the cookies are firm enough to handle, transfer them to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. The finished cookies freeze well and the dough also freezes well. When baking the cookie dough straight from the freezer, allow a few extra minutes for the baking.

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