Horse Whip

ImageThis is a picture of a vineyard in March.  Not much going on.  I like this picture because of the mountain and the sky.  Expansive open range….and not a single sign of the busy, hectic, have to be on time everywhere you go life that I lead.

Contrary to the vineyard, this is a recipe for one of the most exciting spreads ever.  My sister found the recipe, but neither one of us remember where it came from.  One day I texted her and asked if she had that recipe for that “horse whip.”  So now I share it with you.  I call it “Horse Whip” and as my six year old says when things seem simple, you’ll find the recipe to be “easy peasy lemon squeasy.”

Horse Whip

Ingredients

3 T Prepared Horseradish

1/4 c. Sour Cream

1 T. Dijon mustard

1 T. Mayonaise

1 T. chopped chives

Directions

Blend all ingredients together and refrigerate for two hours prior to serving.  Horse whip is amazing served as an accompaniment to perfectly grilled steak seared with just salt and cracked black pepper or alongside ham or simply roasted pork roast.  You can spread it on sandwiches too.  Your dining companions will be asking you for this recipe and all you have to say is, it’s “Horse Whip”.

Enjoy!

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Corned Beef Shepard’s Pie

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Combine traditional corned beef brisket with the simple yet savory of all pies, a shepards pie says “St. Patrick’s Day Dinner” like none other.  Doesn’t that look great?  Situate this entree on the table along side a pitcher of your favorite beer and dive in.  This pie has nice texture and great flavor.  After assembled, you can bake it off immediately or you can  refrigerate for up to 2 days until you need it.

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I stopped by the store to pick up a corned beef brisket and upon approaching the meat case I noticed a gentleman filling his basket with corned beef.  He paused after taking four of them and pawed around in the case looking for more.  I waited patiently and watched his mind work.  When I see shopper’s in the store buying certain items that I’m also after, I often wonder what they are making with all of it.  On this day, there was no sale.  Maybe it just thrills me to think about all the wonderful brisket possibilities.  I wonder what he was going to do with all that brisket.   I was very curious and wanted to find out.  He walked away and so did my urge to ask.  Perhaps one day, I will buy that much at once, but for this recipe, you only need one.

The size of your brisket will depend on the number of people at your house for dinner and the dish you are planning to serve it in.

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Ingredients

1 beef brisket with flavor packet

2 C. beef broth

1 C. chopped onions

1 C. chopped carrots

4 large russett potatoes, peeled

3/4 C. milk

2 pats butter

1 T. flour

1 – 14 oz. can tomato puree

4 oz. of tomato paste

3/4 C. frozen peas

1/4 C. finely chopped, fresh parsley

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Directions

In the morning, place the beef brisket, flavor packet, beef broth, onions, and carrots in a crock pot on low and cook for 8 hours.

Add skinned and chopped russet potatoes to a large pot of salted, boiling water.  Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork tender.  Remove the potatoes to a bowl.  Add butter, milk, salt and pepper and mash until smooth.  If you over-mash, your potatoes will develop gluten and become rubbery.  You can use a ricer if you have one which results in smooth mashed potatoes.  (*My husband says that when I cook, I try to dirty every dish in the kitchen.  While that might be true, at least I’m using my kitchen gadgets and Im not convinced he could say the same for the tools in his shop!”)

Remove vegetables to a separate dish.  Place the beef brisket on a cutting board and using forks, pull apart the meat until it is shredded.  Discard the excess fat.  In a large pot, add the vegetables and beef.  Sprinkle with the flour and stir.  Turn heat on high and add 1 cup of the left over beef broth from the crock pot, tomato puree and tomato paste and gently stir until combined.  Cook until thickened.  Turn down heat to low and stir in peas.

Spray the dish your shepards pie will be going in.  Place the meat and vegetable mixture in the dish and using a heat-safe rubber spatula, spread out to all sides.  Sprinkle the top with fresh finely chopped parsley and cover immediately with mashed potatoes.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  It may take longer if you just took it from the fridge to the oven.  The potatoes should be golden brown on top.

Enjoy!

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Garden Vegetable Soup

Just when the garden goes bizerk, you now have a go-to recipe to use up the ingredients that start piling up in your fridge.  Don’t I know it.

I have made this soup a few times now.  My brother in law’s wife was out of town and he recently  came for dinner for a few evenings in a row.  I made this soup and heated it, then reheated it, then added more veggies and heated it again.  Grinning between spoonfuls (and seconds or thirds) night after night, he gave me the advice that it just keeps getting better and better.  My advice to you is use what is in your garden, in your fridge, the stuff you get for good deals at farmstands and that which your co-workers bestow on you, usually in form of zuchinni.  Use it all and use it here.  You won’t be disappointed AND, it’s great for Fall.  Freeze it for those late, cool evenings when you really don’t have the energy to make anything for dinner.   Serve it with bread that makes you happy and a great wine or hard cider.

Ingredients

There is a ton of stuff I pulled from my personal garden;  potatoes, broccoli, green and purple beans, tomatoes, rutabagas, onions, garlic, carrots, red peppers, peas, yellow crookneck squash and need-I-say-abundant zuchinni.  I also added sliced crimini mushrooms and corn cut from the cob that I received from my neighbor.  To complete your soup, you will also need:

Olive oil

5 C. water

3 T. beef consumme or beef broth

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 8 oz. can tomato paste

1 bay leaf

2 t. dried oregano

2 t. dried basil

1 T. salt

1 T. black pepper

*Optional – you can also add a pound of cooked ground beef to make Garden Vegetable Beef Soup which is amazing too.

Directions

Slice up all your veggies first.  Chop the onion small.  Mince the garlic, dice the red pepper.  Slice your carrots on the bias, quarter your potatoes, rutabagas, beans, zuchinni and squash into bite size pieces, etc.

Get out a huge pot and place it on your stove.  Turn the heat to medium high.  Add a few swirls of olive oil, then add the onion and saute for about three minutes.  Add the carrots, red pepper, mushrooms and broccoli and saute for two more minutes.  Add the minced garlic and stir gently while cooking.  At this point, put your salt and pepper in and continue to cook vegetables until soft.  Add the water and beef consumme, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste and stir gently.  Add the remaining vegetables (potatoes, rutabagas, beans, zuchinni, squash etc.) except peas which go in last, and bring soup to a boil.  *If you are adding beef, add it here.  Once your soup is boiling, turn heat to low to simmer.  Add bay leaf, oregano and basil.  Test soup for salt content and add more if necessary.  Remember, the longer your soup sits, the saltier it will become because your vegetables absord the liquid, so go sparingly.  Simmer soup for about 20 minutes until potatoes are done cooking.  Turn off the heat. Now you can add the peas!  You can either serve it now or wait until the next day when it’s really great!

I have served this in soup bowls along side a salad or in ramekins along side a larger meal.  I have taken it to work and put it in the freezer.  It’s a very good soup to add veggies to night after night.  If you do this, remember to add more water, consumme, salt and pepper to taste.  Please let me know how much you enjoy it.  I just love it!

Eggplant Strata with Basil and Marinara

This is soo good and my family adores it.  When dinner menus are discussed, it is often that I am asked to make the “eggplant thingy”.  I just had Dinner Club and my friend and her husband were going vegetarian for a few weeks as a personal challenge.  I thought that seemed like a good idea and when I got home, I dared my husband to go for two weeks without eating meat.  I found that it was really hard for me.  He did really good, but I failed miserably since my favorite lunch is the taco truck I go to near work.  In the end, we did okay.  We ate stir fry for a week and a few salads and the rustic pie.  I told my “vegetarian-for-a-few-weeks-girlfriend” that I had a great recipe for her.  Poor thing.  I bet she’s tired of stir fry.  Try this!

Ingredients

16 oz. of Marinara Sauce – Pick your favorite.

1 medium size eggplant, sliced into thin rounds about 1/4 inch thick

oil for frying

2 C. grated mozzarella cheese

2 cloves of garlic. slivered

4 ripe roma tomatoes, thinly sliced into rounds

1 large handful of fresh basil, torn or chiffonade

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

If you are using a deep fryer, prepare the fryer now to 325 degrees.  If you are using oil on the stovetop, start heating your oil until 325 degrees or until you drop a piece of eggplant in and it bubbles.

When your oil is ready, add the slices of eggplant to the oil to begin frying.  You may need to do this in a few batches.  When they are golden brown, remove from the oil and lay on a paper towel lined tray.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Continue these steps until your eggplant slices are done cooking.  Turn off heat and let oil cool before handling.

Layering your strata:  Take an oven safe casserole dish or bakeware and place 3 T of the marinara sauce on the bottom of your dish and spread evenly.  Layer the cooked eggplant slices on top of the marinara.  Use enough eggplant to make one layer.  Then add a thin layer of marinara.  Add the garlic slices.  Add a layer of mozzarella cheese.  Add thinly sliced tomatoes.  Add another layer of marinara. Add the remaining eggplant slices.  Add the last layer of marinara, distribute basil over the top and add the final layer with mozzarella cheese.

Bake strata for 35 minutes or until cheese on top is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let sit to cool for 20 minutes before serving.  This dish is very hot coming out of the oven so please use caution.

Enjoy!

Potato and Spring Greens Rustic Pie

This recipe was inspired by the Irish baked pies.  I wasn’t too sure how this was going to turn out, but my family loved it and wanted me to add it to the Easter menu next Sunday.  I’m having the whole crew over for Easter dinner so I’m calling this a head start. Remember, this is “rustic”, so quantities are not exact and it doesn’t have to look perfect.  It will, however, taste great.  Make it as a side for ham, pork roast or flat iron steak.  I had it for breakfast!  The pastry is very light, it cuts easy and it is all around quite impressive.

Pastry Dough Ingredients

2 C. flour

12 T. very cold butter (no substitutes), cubed

1 t. salt

2 egg yolks

2 t. cold water

Directions for Pastry

Prepare the pastry dough by adding the flour, butter and salt to your food processor and pulse until pebbles form.  Add egg yolks and water and pulse again until combined.  Remove dough from the food processor and place on a sheet of wax paper.  Place a sheet of wax paper over the top of the dough and using a rolling pin, roll out until ¼ inch thin.  Turn it out into a pie dish and keep the ends hanging over so when you wrap it up, they come over part of the top of your pie.  If you want to make individual or “personal” pies, just separate the dough into equal portions before you roll it.  You can turn it out over ramekins or other cute little oven safe dishes.

Note:  This dough is also great for desserts so keep it on hand.

Ingredients for Filling

5 medium potatoes, any kind, cubed

1/4 C. milk

¼ C. cheese (gruyere, parmigiano reggiano, fontina)

1 T. Butter

1 T. Olive Oil

½ red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 hand sized bunches of chopped assorted greens, stems removed (spinach, broccoli raab, kale raab, swiss chard, mustard greens), also try some herbs!

Salt and pepper

1 egg, whisked

Directions for Filling

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Wash and cube your potatoes.  Heat a pot of enough water to cover potatoes to a boil.  Place potatoes in the pot with about 1 t. salt.  Cook until tender and remove from heat.  Drain water and place potatoes into a bowl suitable for mashing and mash them.  Add the milk and cheese(s) and stir until combined.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In a skillet, heat the butter and the olive oil together.  Add onion and cook for three minutes.  Add the minced garlic and sauté for one more minute.  Stir in greens and cover for about five minutes stirring occasionally.  Finish with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

When the greens and onions are done, add them to the potato mixture and stir gently until combined.   Add all the contents to the pie plate and smooth to the sides.  Gently wrap the pastry up over the sides of the greens mixture.  Baste pastry with egg wash.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Note: You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate.  It’s also great as leftovers.

Enjoy!

 

Sweet Potato Fries

Last Fall, my girlfriends and I took a trip to Whistler, B.C.  One of my favorite memories from that trip was the Yam Fries we had at Ric’s Grill.  The waitress brought them out and set them in the middle of the table and my friends, Kathy and Tracy and I just stared at them.  They were glorious.  They also came with a wonderful chipotle’ aioli sauce.  Here is my version:

Ingredients:  Sweet Potato Fries

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled

Canola oil for frying

Salt and pepper

Directions:  Sweet Potato Fries

Place enough of the oil in a fry pan or deep fryer to cover potatoes.  Heat the oil to about 325 degrees.  Meanwhile, cut potatoes into fries lengthwise.  Make them all the same size so they cook evenly.  Carefully add the potatoes to the oil and fry for about 8 minutes, turning if necessary.  Turn off heat and scoop out potatoes with a heat proof utensil onto a tray lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Let cool slightly and enjoy.  For crispier fries, you can cook them longer in the fryer.

Ingredients:  Chipotle Aioli

1 C. mayonnaise

1/4 C. Dijon mustard

2 T. white wine vinegar

1 T. canned chipotles, minced

Directions:  Chipotle Aioli

Mix all the above ingredients together well and serve with sweet potato fries.

Enjoy!

Mexican Chop Salad

This is a quick and healthy weeknight salad.  I actually saw a beautiful picture of a Cobb salad in one of my cookbooks that inspired it.  On a quick break from work, I ran over to the store to grab a couple of ingredients and bought a pre-roasted rotisserie chicken.  When I returned home for the night, it didn’t take much to get this on the table.  It’s spicy and refreshing.  You can use the dressing featured here or your own.  This is a salad you will repeat.

 

Ingredients

1 medium head of romaine lettuce, chopped

1 C. chopped tomatoes

1 C. chopped red pepper

1 ½ C.  rotisserie chicken, chopped

2 avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into ½ inch squares

1 14 oz. can black beans

1 C. shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese

¼ cup chopped green onion (optional)

Dressing:

1 C. plain greek yogurt

4 T. half and half

1 T. chopped Chipotle Chilies in Adobe sauce

 

Directions

You’re going to need a wide, flat serving bowl to hold the salad.

Wash your lettuce and spin dry.  Lay a bed of lettuce on your serving bowl.  Starting in the middle of the bowl, lay down the chicken in a straight line.  Next to it, lay down your black beans.  Repeat this step with remaining ingredients.   For the best outcome, cut the white pithy part off the peppers so they are nice and vibrant and remember that those ingredients that have high contrast to each other should be next to one another.  For example, don’t put your red peppers and your tomatoes together because they are both red, etc.

To make the dressing, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until combined.  If you desire a thicker consistency, use less half and half.  If you desire a creamy consistency, use more half and half.

Enjoy!

Indian Spicy Vegetables

Indian Spicy Vegetables
A week ago, my family and I went to dinner with some friends at an Indian restaurant in town that I have passed several times as it is on my way to the trail where I run.  The bright yellow and red awning out front has always captured my curiosity and I remember thinking that we should “try it” one day.  The day had come.  A friend of my husbands who was working with him that day said to me that we should join him and his girlfriend for dinner there that night.  He knew the owner and told me how he chastised them and walked out one day because the food was “tasteless and watered down.”  “Where is the spices?” he asked them.  Turns out, there is a retirement community that has long lived across the street they explained.  The elderly residents come often to get lunches and early dinners.  Too much spice hurts their stomachs and they stop coming.  Who could blame them.
After we were settled at our table, the owner of the restaurant came over to talk with us.  He would laugh out loud in his accent, telling us the story of our dinner companion criticizing their food.  Apparently, the restaurant owner also had at one time a resturant in New York City and spoke of some famous celebrities that would occassionally stop in.  He explained that he would have his picture taken with them and hang them proudly on his wall.  He went on to say that his wife destroyed them all because the pictures were of actresses!  There were no celebrity pictures on the walls, however, the restaurant was packed. 
They had since made adjustments in the way they spiced the food because it was wonderful.  On this night, it was a Sikh religious holiday.  There were no menus.  There was a large buffet.  Im really not sure what belly dancers have to do with the religious holiday, but there she was all dressed in shimmering greens and golds.  She was as beautiful as she was talented.  With her music turned up, she performed numerous dances for the guests and the last, she used a sword.  Her feminity truly dominated despite the strength and masculinity of the sword with which she danced.  The entertainment was as good as the food.
Inspired to make Indian food at home, I did some research specifically to find a recipe close to something I ate that night.  There was a vegetable dish that was amazing and spicy!  This recipe is based off the Indian Spiced Vegetables recipe at www.epicurious.com, however, I admit to changing a significant portion of it.  These vegetables can be served as a main course or a side and serves 6.
Indian Spicy Vegetables
Ingredients
2 T. butter
1 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. tumeric
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cardamom
1/4 ground cloves
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. fresh ginger, grated
1 serrano chile, minced
1 C. water
1 T. sugar
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 green zucchini
1 yellow zucchini
3/4 C. mushrooms
3/4 C. baby carrots
1 C, sweet potato, peeled, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 t. salt
1 C. grape tomatoes
2 T fresh basil, chiffonade
2 t. lime juice
2 T. chopped cilantro
Directions
Put all the spices in a small bowl.  Combine garlic, ginger and chile pepper in another small bowl.  In a third small bowl, combine water, sugar and vinegar.  Set all three bowls aside.  
Melt butter in a large skillet or pot until hot.  Take your bowl of spices and add them to the butter, stirring for about a minute.  Add the bowl containing your garlic, ginger and chile pepper to the spices and cook for about another minute.  Add vegetables to pot.  Stir in vinegar mixture.  Cover vegetables with lid and cook for 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes and basil.  Give it a little salt and cover again with lid.  Cook, covered for 10 more minutes.  Do not raise the lid until the time is up.  Remove lid and add lime juice and cilantro and serve.

Mustard Crusted Pork Roast with Savory Winter Root Vegetables

Mustard Crusted Pork Roast
with Savory Winter Root Vegetables

Early Saturday morning, I got out of bed and told myself, “If you go to the store now, you won’t have to do anything else this entire three day weekend.”  I poured a cup of coffee, slipped on my tennis shoes and vest, put my hair in a pony tail and out the door I went into the cool, clear morning to grocery shop.  The kids stayed home with my husband.

Going without the kids somehow is so much easier.  For one,  I don’t have to carry my son literally all over the store because he vehemently refuses to ride in the cart, or walk, which is exhausting.  I know there is a toddler seat in every cart, always absent of my son’s behind, but now it’s a holder for the vegetables and fruit Im purchasing. And two, my daughter is always picking up things I would never buy and putting them in the cart only to be taken back out and put back on the shelf when she’s not looking.  Isn’t that what all parents do, carry one around with muscles that don’t exist and somehow with a free hand, put back the mish mash of collectibles accumulated along your weary way by the other one while trying to remember your mental grocery list?  And finally, when you get to the check out, one of them is squeezing all the candy bars and putting them back on the shelf and the other one is begging you for your secret debit card password because THEY want to DO IT!  It’s truly the gameshow equivalent, if not the gameshow itself.  Somewhere, somehow, there’s got to be fabulous cash and prizes for making it through the checkout.  Well, today was different.  Today was the day that I was free from the bonds of motherly bliss of being a junglejim with a toddler necklace and using the cart like a crutch to just get one more last minute item before staggering to that perfect place in line only to get behind the junk food guy with the short attention span and finding out it’s the checkers second day and they are going to have trouble with your coupons.  Today is the day I found my mind and bought a pork roast.
What a lovely idea.  When you are this happy to buy a pork roast, you either love food or you need to have more excitement in your life.  This wasn’t just any pork roast.  It came without seasonings or injected color.  There were no black specks in the wrapper that were, at one time, herbs.  There was no advertisement about an inclusive “Flav-O-Pac.” It was just a plain fresh, innocent pork roast with no adulteration….yet.  He was a beauty and he was cheap!  This date was looking better and better.  The options were endless.  It made me so happy.  I hope you are this happy when you buy your pork roast.  You should be.  I’m about to share with you one of the best pork roast recipes of ALL TIME.  Here we go.

Mustard Crusted Pork Roast with Savory Winter Root Vegetables

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients
1 2 or 3 pound pork roast, unadulterated
1/4 C. grainy dijon mustard
1/4 C. dijon mustard
1/2 C. soy sauce
1 T. black pepper, divided
2 C. Panko or bread crumbs
Olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
2 carrots, cut into sections
2 parsnips, cut into sections
10 baby red potatoes or 2 large cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into eighths
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. salt
1 C. chicken broth
1 C. white wine

Directions
Take your beautiful pork roast out of the packaging.  Wash and pat dry (dry!).  Combine mustards, soy sauce, garlic and 1 t. pepper in small bowl and whisk to combined.  Slather mixture on pork roast until thoroughly coated.  Roll pork roast in panko or bread crumbs.  Set aside.
Slice all  your vegetables and put them in the bottom of a dutch oven pan and cover them with a few swirls of olive oil, thyme, salt and the remaining pepper.  Using your hands, toss together to thoroughly coat.
Place the breaded pork roast on top of vegetables in your dutch oven and lightly swirl with olive oil over the top.
Place roast in the oven and cook for about two hours or until your roast registers 140 to 150 degrees.  Take pot out of the oven and carefully removing the roast, set it on a cutting board to rest.  Turn the oven up to 425 degrees and put the vegetables back in for about 15 minutes.  Carefully remove vegetables from pot into serving dish.  There should be some tasty morsels in the bottom of your pot.  Place pot on stovetop and turn up the heat to medium high.  Pour in your chicken broth and wine.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer scraping sides and bottom to incorporate all the flavors and reduce to about 3/4 cup.  Add pepper as desired.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Plate your roast with your vegetables and drizzle sauce over the top.  This roast is so simple and is a great idea if you are serving it to a group of people.  But even if you are just making it for you and your sweet one, they will be eating right out of your hand!  They will love your roast as much as you do!
Enjoy!

Hummus

Hummus
I have looked over a lot of recipes for hummus.  Trader Joes has an excellent version that comes in a circle pack with four sections and each section is flavored differently.  My favorite is the spicy.  If you want to make it on your own so you know what is actually in the food you are eating, I think this recipe is the best by far.  It is actually a combination of a few recipes I’ve worked with and it has just the right flavor.  I think working with hummus is fun because it is very versatile and you can flavor it up any way you want.  It’s almost like a canvas.  You start with the base and then keep layering in flavor.  It’s also heart healthy for you!
If you are looking to make this the appetizer for a romantic meal, prepare it as shown below, but withhold the paprika and parsley.  Take a piece of paper and fold in half.  On the fold, cut out half a heart shape.  Unfold the heart and lay it directly on the surface of your hummus, but off to one side a bit.  Sprinkle  your paprika over the top and make sure to cover the heart.  Follow up with sprinkling your parsley.  You really don’t need much.  Carefully lift the paper heart off and there you have a very special Valentine’s Day treat for your sweet one. 
Hummus

Ingredients

1 14 oz. can of chickpeas, undrained
6 large cloves of garlic
1/2 C. olive oil
1 t. taco seasoning
1/4 C. Tahini paste
1/4 C. lemon juice*
1/2 t. salt
3 dashes of paprika for garnish
handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped
Directions
In your Cuisinart, add chickpeas, garlic olive oil, taco seasoning, tahini paste, lemon juice and salt.  Blend until smooth.  Taste for flavor and consistentcy and adjust as necessary.  Spoon hummus out into decorative bowl and serve alongside rice crackers, breadsticks, toasts or use as a spread on paninnis, tortillas or sandwiches.
*Special Note:  Tahini paste is really a paste made from sesame seeds.  It contains oil from the seed.  It usually comes in a can or a jar and can be found in the peanut butter section of your grocery store.  Unlike peanut butter, it separates into oil and solid.  Be sure to either shake well or stir it up prior to measuring it out for this recipe.
Enjoy!