Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chocolate Panna Cotta

This smooth thick panna cotta is simple to make. You can make it ahead for a dinner party or special occasion.  A small portion is all you need because it is very rich.  Kids might want a sweeter version.  Serve it with a dollop of sweetened cream and a dab of raspberry preserves for a festive touch.

Best Granola

This is truly a great granola recipe.  It's versatile because you can swap out the suggested dried fruits and nuts with whatever you have on hand (maintaining the same proportions) and it will still be yummy.  For instance, I like pepitas better than sunflower seeds and sometimes I sub in raisins for the dried cranberries.  If you are avoiding dairy, use grapeseed oil in place of the melted butter and skip the milk powder.  You can also use some agave nectar or maple syrup in place of half the honey.  

I like to eat granola over plain yogurt for breakfast, or anytime as a snack.  A clean dry tomato sauce jar filled with crunchy granola makes a great gift!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Smothered Pork Chops

Trying to find the right way to cooking pork chops without ending up with a shoe-leather hardened piece of meat was a quandary.  Pork chops tend to be very lean, and thin cuts of pork get tough when fried.  This is a better way to deal with a thin chop.  Sear the meat in a hot pan, cook on both sides until 90% done, then it rest while making the gravy.  Five extra minutes over low heat in the bubbling gravy ensures a fairly juicy entree and some tasty sauce.

I like to serve these with potatoes and green beans.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Simple Almond Torte

A few years ago I bought a Swedish cake pan.  It came with a recipe for almond cake.  When I found this recipe for Almond Torte, I knew exactly which pan I wanted to make it in.  This is a dense cake, best eaten in small slices with a cup of hot tea.  I have added extra sweetness in the form of sugar to the recipe, but you can make the cake with the honey alone and add a glaze to it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Colombian Fried Plantains

My mother is Colombian and she used to make these when we were kids.  Now I make them for my kids.  Green plantains are starchy, so wait until the peels are yellowish-black to make these because they will be sweeter.  Serve these with a stew or a thick soup or with any Colombian dish.  They also make a great appetizer!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Red Bean Mochi

My kids love red bean filling because they have been eating it in rice balls, mochi and moon cakes since they were little.  I think it may be an acquired taste.  This is a fairly simple recipe for making mochi with red bean filling.  You can also just make the dough part and eat the mochi plain.

I like to use Eden brand beans because they are readily available at my local grocery.  For some reason they call these "Aduki Beans" which looks like a typo to me.  I have also seen these beans called azuki beans.  Whatever.  I'm pretty sure we are all talking about the same beans!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Flourless White Chocolate Macademia Cookies

When you taste these rich cookies, you will not believe that there is no butter or flour in them!

Although these buttery treats only require a few ingredients, they are spendy.  (I like to get my macademia nuts at Trader Joe's.)  While it may seem like making such expensive nuts into a butter is a crime, its a tasty one that I encourage you to try at least once.  Try your own cookie variation by using different nut butters and mix-ins, keeping the amounts the same.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Crispy Parmesan-Crusted Chicken

My teenage son found this recipe and made it for a family dinner.  His sister and her friends showed up at the right time and helped us eat it all.  It's a tasty weeknight dinner that is also worthy of company.  (I think Nicola's friends would agree.)  You can use the same technique with boneless pork chops.  Serve hot with a side of mashed potatoes and a salad.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Caponata Siciliana

Caponata is the Italian version of ratatouille, with lots of basil and pine nuts.  The original recipe calls for 2 large eggplants, but since some of my family members are eggplant averse, I used more zucchini instead. I have since made this without any eggplant at all and it was fine.

If you like a bit of spice, I'd recommend adding a couple of tablespoons of red or green curry paste or a squirt of Sriracha. You could also use a jar of pesto in place of the basil.  This makes a nice side dish tossed with a few cannellini beans.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Deviled Eggs

Honestly, who does not like deviled eggs?  These are a killer finger food that will instantly raise you to the status of best hostess.  If you prefer a fancy preparation you can pipe the filling with a pastry tip and swirl away to your heart's delight.  But these don't last long enough at our house to merit such efforts.  It's a minor miracle that I even had an opportunity to snap a photo of these before they were snatched up!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Berry Rhubarb Maple Crisp

Another delicious way to eat more rhubarb!  Feel free to sub out any of the fruits below while keeping the same quantities.  The original recipe called for blackberries instead of blueberries, but I thought blueberries would be less tart.  The choice is yours.

There will be more than enough crisp topping for 6 6-oz ramekins.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Cherry Jam

Our rhubarb plant is growing like crazy so the hunt for rhubarb recipes is on!  This is a simple jam recipe that is pectin-free.  My son and I previewed many recipes before choosing this one and noted that Martha Stewart's recipe incorporated blood oranges to lend a nice red color to the jam.  Blood oranges are only available for about two weeks in Minnesota, but I decided we could do the same thing by using dark red cherries.  I think the color is great!

I like to put my jam into these Luminarc glass jars with lids.  I am not a very good canner in that I don't have the patience to sterilize jars and lids.  I just make small quantities and keep the jars in the fridge.  It also helps that I give most of what I make away!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Shirazi Salad

This is a salad from Persia, now known as Iran.  It's a nice spring or summer salad that can be paired with roasted chicken or grilled meats.  A fresh alternative when lettuce salads start to lose their novelty, this salad also keeps well so leftovers can be eaten the next day.  I forgot to add the chopped parsley in the version pictured above, but no one noticed.  If you find that the onions are too strong after soaking, try soaking the onions in hot water instead.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Roasted Parsnips and Apples

Parsnips, where have you been all my life?  Most people don't have good feelings about root vegetables, but when roasted these are very tasty.  I used sliced leeks instead of the chopped shallots in the version above and it was good.  I found that the recommended roasting time (1 hour at 425 degrees) was too much, resulting in char, though still yummy.  I reduced the time and temperature accordingly in the version below.

When the weather is too hot to turn on the oven, you could also roast these on the grill in a foil packet.  Serve with fish dishes or grilled meats.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Amondi Cookies

If you like almonds, you will love these cookies.  They are dense, chewy on the inside and not too sweet with a bit of orange essence and a dusting of powdered sugar.  I like to use a combination of blanched and unblanched almond flour (also called almond meal).

Instead of the plain almonds, I have topped these with chocolate-covered almonds, pictured above. You could also substitute chocolate chunks, another kind of nut, candied fruit or maybe even a small dollop of jam.  Don't over bake these or they will end up hard throughout when cooled.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rosemary Spiced Nuts

These spiced nuts make a great snack.  I like to use unsalted and untoasted nuts, but if those cannot be found salted toasted nuts can be used; just cut the amount of salt and time in the oven.  (Trader Joes has a wide selection of nuts at reasonable prices.)  Consider doubling the recipe: a jar of Rosemary Spiced Nuts makes a very special gift!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Arugula Pancetta Salad

This is an easy weekday salad.  It's not often that I put meat in a salad, but I tried it here and it was pretty good.  Arugula can be too peppery for some, if so I recommend substituting spinach for some or all of the greens.  And if you fail to plan ahead and don't have cherry tomatoes on hand, feel free to improvise as I did above, using apples instead of tomatoes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake

My son made this cake for my birthday and it was a real treat--very moist and chocolate-y.  It is not dense and brick-like the way other flourless cakes can be.  This cake is pretty good served as is, but for a special occasion try topping it with Chocolate Ganache.  Marvelous!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Simple Coconut Macaroons

These are the easiest coconut macaroons.  All you need are four ingredients and about half an hour to make 2 dozen of these tasty cookies.  They are on the softer side.  If you like them crisper, try using 5 cups of coconut and baking a little longer.  Also, store the cookies in a non-airtight container or they will get soft again.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pork and Tofu Stir-Fry With Scallions

If you like Ma Pao tofu, a Chinese dish with ground pork and tofu, you will like this.  The key to this subtler version is mellow white Japanese miso.  I was able to find this ingredient at our local Lund's grocery store.  If you are using traditional miso, you might want to use less.  I also use Thai red curry paste, instead of the Korean red pepper paste originally specified, because it is easier to find.

The dish comes together quickly, in about 30 minutes, so start making the rice first so that everything will be ready at the same time.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Honey Tahini Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are good, but for a twist on the old standard try these tahini cookies. Tahini is a nut butter made from sesame seeds and the taste is more subtle than peanut butter.  These bake up thin and crispy with a nice note of sweetness from the honey.  Not only are these gluten-free, but they are also Paleo-friendly since they are grain-free.  Great as an after-school treat!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Candied Citrus Peel

Orangette is a French candied orange peel.  I thought using a grapefruit would be a nice twist on the classic navel orange. Actually, I used a combination of both. Feel free to make this with any type of citrus peel. Candied peels are a nice decoration on a chocolate cake.

The best way to remove the peels from the grapefruit or orange is to cut off the top and the bottom of the fruit, score the from one end to the other, remove the peels and slice into thin strips.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

My son loves the Strawberry Banana Smoothies at Caribou Coffee, and he says that this recipe is almost as good.  Actually, I think it is better because he can have these nearly every day, as long as I can find strawberries at the market.  Plus, I don't add any extra sugar so my smoothies are probably healthier!  He could care less about healthier, but I do.  Too bad, kiddo!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kale Chips - Two Ways

Bet you can't eat just one!  I like to use lacinato kale to make these chips.  As a quick side dish, they are very crunchy and fun to eat.  Put a big bowl of these on the dinner table and stand back. See how much kale your kids can really eat in one sitting!