Archive for December, 2011

We don’t consume nearly enough fish as we probably should.  Rice Kernel has been ambivalent about salmon, which we almost always have on hand.  But with a delicious, appetizing glaze, there’s no way my little Sauce Lover can deny this piece of fish.

Pan-Fried Salmon with Citrus Vinaigrette, from Food and Wine


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons snipped chives
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Eight 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the orange, lemon and lime juices and simmer over moderate heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature. Whisk in the shallot, chives and the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In each of 2 large skillets, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil until shimmering. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and add 4 to each skillet. Cook over moderately high heat until browned and just cooked, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer the salmon to plates and spoon some of the citrus vinaigrette on top. Pass the extra vinaigrette at the table

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Unlike more and more of my friends, I’m fortunate not to have to worry about nut allergies for Rice Kernel.  When your child is allergic to nuts or peanuts every food needs to undergo an exhaustive ingredient analysis.  Rice Kernel is a nut fiend – in raw form, roasted, and in nut butters.  When he started school this year, this meant eliminating one of his preferred savory, crunchy snacks to bring to school.  Searching for a new crunchy, protein-packed snack I (finally) discovered and tasted roasted chickpeas.  Simple to prepare, a scant amount of oil and seasoning can transform a humble can of beans into a crunchy delight!  The flavor combinations are endless.  Give it a try – and let me know what spices you use.

Roasted Chickpeas

1 can (14 oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
Seasonings of your choice


  1. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Bake at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes.  (Check after 25 minutes to make sure they do not burn.)
  3. Enjoy hot, without seasoning or transfer hot chickpeas to a bowl to mix with spices.
  4. For salted chickpeas, add 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt to taste.
  5. For sweet chickpeas, add 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar, and a pinch of salt.  Mix thoroughly.
  6. For a spicier version, add a pinch of cayenne.
  7. To store, bring to room temperature and place in an air-tight container.  (They will last about a week, although they will be less crunchy towards weeks’ end.)

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A long title for a simple dinner.  With an excess of swiss chard in the garden and packs of frozen gound beef in the freezer, this dinner was a no-brainer.  Paired with some of Rice Kernel’s favorite green foods – cucumber and avocado – this meal packs a flavorful punch and enlivened our taste buds on a “cold” northern California evening.  Since my boys typically have a rice preference, I’ve opted for that tonight.  Feel free to use tortillas or taco shells in place of the rice. 

Swiss Chard Beef Tacos

1 pound lean ground beef, preferably organic
1 large onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (or 2-3 fresh tomatoes, chopped)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons taco seasoning (store-bought or homemade)
large bunch of swiss chard, chopped
Shedded lettuce and cheese, for serving
Cucumber avocado salsa, recipe follows
Cilantro lime rice, here

  1. Brown ground beef; drain well.   Add onions and chard.  Cook until wilted.  Add tomatoes and seasonings.  Serve with rice, salsa and any additional condiments.

Cucumber Avocado Salsa

1 Large Cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 Avocados, peeled, pitted, & cubed
2 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Mint, chopped
Juice of 1 Lime
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt

1. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and combine.
2. Serve.

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As simple as a one-bowl cake recipe, this is a moist holiday bread that is lovely for dessert (with some whipped cream), with tea for a snack, or for breakfast.  The spice is mild – add more ginger, chopped dried ginger, or ginger baking chips for a spicier version.

Molasses-and-Buttermilk Gingerbread, from Bon Appetit November 2000

1 1/4 cups all purpose or white whole wheat flour (or use half whole wheat pastry flour)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup mild-flavored light or dark molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8x8x2-inch baking pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Sift all purpose flour, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, baking soda and ground nutmeg into medium bowl. Combine molasses, 1/2 cup sugar, melted butter, buttermilk and large egg in large bowl; whisk to blend. Whisk in dry ingredients. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
  2. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack. Sift powdered sugar over cake. Cut cake into 16 squares.

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My typically adventurous, easy little eater has turned a bit picky of late.  Actually, he just negotiates.  “How about 3 more bites and then I get to eat fruit or dessert?” or “How about just 2 veggies?”  While he seems to enjoy meat every other day, he is definitely carb-obsessed and favors simple flavors.  Here’s to catering to the little man….

Whole Wheat Chicken Parmesan, from Ellie Krieger

4 slices whole-wheat bread (1-ounce each)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 egg whites
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 (6 ounce) skinless boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness or 8-10 chicken tenders (which I think are more tender after cooking)
Olive oil cooking spray
1 jar good-quality marinara sauce (about 3 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons (1/2-ounce) shredded Parmesan


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor and process until fine crumbs are formed, about 25 to 30 seconds. Put the crumbs on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until golden. (You will wind up with about 1 1/3 cups toasted crumbs.)
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the crumbs with oregano, garlic powder, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and milk together. In a third bowl stir together the flour, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Dip each piece of chicken, 1 piece at a time, in flour, shaking off excess, then egg, then bread crumbs, shaking off excess.
  4. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Place breaded breasts in a glass baking dish and spray on each side with cooking spray, about 5 seconds total per side. Bake breasts until cooked though and crumbs are browned, about 15 minutes. Top with marinara sauce, mozzarella and parmesan and return to oven for an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.

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My dear friend Penny, who is living abroad in Austria currently, sent me an Austrian cookbook recently.  By and large a bit “heavy,” there’s no denying that many authentic Austrian dishes are comforting.  Having enjoyed my share of traditional and non-traditional cabbage pasta over the years, I decided to combine it with Baked Ham Noodles (or schinkenfleckerin, in the cookbook).

I lightened the dish a bit with lowfat sour cream, the addition of extra onions, 1/2 head of cabbage, and a few handfuls of peas, and by omitting the butter.  For a healthier take, you could also substitute whole wheat pasta and omit some of the egg yolks.  The recipe below is the original – perhaps the way it should be for the holidays….

Baked Ham Noodles, from Culinary Austra, published by Krenn

3 1/2 oz onions, finely chopped
3 1/2 oz butter
9 oz ham, diced
9 oz noodles or pasta
3 1/2 oz butter
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 1/2 oz cheese, Emmentaler or medium strong cheese
8 oz sour cream
salt, pepper, marjoram, parsley
butter and breadcrumbs for topping dish

  1. Fry onions and ham.
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to instructions.
  3. Drain pasta and mix with onions, ham, salt, pepper, and marjoram.
  4. Beat the butter until creamy and stir in the egg yolks. 
  5. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.  Carefully fold in sour cream, cheese, and whites into the yolk mixture.  Stir in pasta.
  6. Butter an ovenproof dish and brush with butter.
  7. Spread pasta evenly, cover with breadcrumbs and butter.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

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Sweet Kolaches

I’ve had my eye on kolache recipes for a long while now.  A pastry originating as a semisweet wedding dessert from Central Europe, these puffy pillows hold a sweet or savory center.  My preference is for a cottage and/or cream cheese filling but fruit, sausage or cheese and jalapeno fillings are equally delicious.  While there are myriad dough formulations, this particular recipe is forgiving and remains soft with the addition of whole wheat pastry flour.  Give it a try on your holiday breakfast table or for a dessert.

Kolache Dough, from Lottie and Doof, adapted from Saveur, issue #121

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened (or oil, as I use), plus 1 tbsp. melted
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg yolk
3 1⁄4 cups flour, divided (plus more for kneading) – I use half whole wheat pastry
3⁄4 cup milk

  1. In a bowl, stir the yeast, 1 tsp. sugar, and 1⁄2 cup water heated to 115°; let sit until foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, beat softened butter and 3 tbsp. sugar until combined. Add salt and egg yolk; beat until smooth. Add yeast mixture, 3 1⁄4 cups flour, and milk; stir until dough comes together.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until no longer very sticky, adding flour as needed (I needed to add about another 1/4 cup of flour) and form a ball.
  4. Return ball of dough to bowl. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel; set aside in a warm place to let rise, about 1 hour. (It will about double in size.)
  5. Heat oven to 375°. Divide dough into 16 balls; arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet about a 1/2 inch from each other (4 rows of 4). Brush with remaining melted butter; cover with plastic wrap; let rise for 30 minutes.
  6. Using back of a spoon or fingers, make an indentation in the top center of each ball.
  7. Spoon 1 tbsp. filling into each; sprinkle with crumb topping, if desired (recipe follows). Bake until golden, 15-20 minutes.

Strawberry Filling

8 oz. strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1⁄2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Combine berries, sugar, lemon juice, and 1⁄4 cup water in a 2-qt. pan over medium-high heat. Cook until thick, 8–10 minutes. Remove from heat; mash berries until chunky; let cool.

Cottage Cheese Filling

4 oz. cottage cheese
2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
1 egg yolk

Place the cottage cheese, cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and egg yolk in a medium bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Dried Fruit Filling

1/2 pound of dried fruit such as apricots or prunes.
Sugar to taste
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
Lemon zest

Soak the dried fruit in water for a few hours or overnight.
When fruit is re-hydrated, cook on low for 15 minutes, adding sugar to taste (I find the fruit sweet enough so I don’t add sugar, but you may prefer it sweeter), cinnamon and lemon zest. Mash with a potato masher until you have a puree.

Posypka (crumb topping)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients until crumbly.

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