Archive for June, 2010

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Berry Cherry Pie

June 27, 2010

It’s tart cherry season at your local farmers’ market! This means there are tons of bright red pints of cherries just waiting to be put into a pie like these:

It’s also strawberry season…and that is the inspiration for a berry cherry pie!  Hope you like it.

You will need…

  • 3 pints fresh tart pie cherries, pitted and with much of the juice drained
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, de-stemmed and sliced
  • 5 T tapioca
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t almond extract
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T butter, chopped roughly into chunks
  • 2 pie crusts

Then you…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Combine the cherries and strawberries in a large mixing bowl with the tapioca, sugar, salt and extracts. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Spray a pie plate with cooking spray and add the bottom crust.
  4. Fill with the fruit mixture and dot with the butter.
  5. Add a top crust — either in a lattice design or cut steam holes to vent!
  6. Bake on a cookie sheet (in case of bubbling over) about 50-55 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes on a rack before serving; you want to allow the filling time to cool enough to set.
  8. Serve with whipped cream.

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Lamb Ragout

June 22, 2010

This weekend I had a delicious lamb sandwich after a local parade, and it reminded me of how much I enjoy lamb.  I also had some mushrooms and mint that needed to be used before much longer  and voila! It became the basis for a mushroom-lamb ragout with fresh chopped mint. It’s pretty delicious if I do say so myself, although it’s definitely not your typical summer dinner dish.

You will need…

  • 1 lb rigatoni pasta
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced and slightly broken up
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 c red wine
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce, Italian style
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomato
  • 3/4 c part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c fresh mint, roughly chopped

Then you…

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the rigatoni according to the package. Stop cooking 1-2 minutes before al dente, so the pasta does not overcook when added into the sauce later.
  2. In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until just starting to turn tender or about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms and allow to begin to brown.
  4. Add the lamb, salt and pepper.  Cook until the lamb is browned and most of the juices have cooked off.
  5. Add the wine to deglaze, scraping any of the yummy brown bits off the pan as you go. Allow the wine to reduce slightly.
  6. Mix in the tomato sauce and the crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine and allow to simmer about 15 minutes.
  7. Mix in the ricotta cheese and remove from the heat.
  8. Combine the hot, drained pasta with the sauce. Stir in the mint. Serve and enjoy!

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Citrus Beef

June 17, 2010

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to liven up a salad or just a different twist on a main dish for dinner, try this recipe for citrus beef.  I used pre-sliced beef loin that most markets carry for stir-fry dishes, because I knew I wanted to add it to my salad. You could easily substitute some steaks or whatever cut of meat (or even poultry) you enjoy most!

You will need…

  • 1 large navel orange
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 t honey
  • 1/2 lb beef loin
  • Pepper

Then you…

  1. Zest and juice the orange, lime and lemon into a small bowl.  Add the mustard and honey, season heartily with pepper, and whisk to combine.
  2. Place the beef in a large ziplock bag and add in the marinade.  Seal and shake to coat the meat.  Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat.  Coat with cooking spray. Drain excess marinade from bag and add the beef to the hot skillet. Cook until it reaches your desired level of done-ness (I like mine medium-rare, so it only took a couple of minutes).

You could easily add some grated fresh garlic and/or ginger to this marinade for a new twist on the dish!

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Roasted Garlic Salad Dressing

June 13, 2010

If you’ve come over for dinner, you’ve probably had a salad at my house.  And if you have had a salad at my house,  you’ve probably enjoyed some homemade salad dressing.  I’ve been on a kick to try and create a variety of dressings that are tangy enough to keep me interested without having all the cruddy ingredients you find in so many bottled varieties.  Plus I don’t like the same dressing every day, so making it in smaller portions has been an easy way to diversify the flavors.  This a pretty basic dressing that I can’t seem to get enough of these days!

You will need…

  • 10 cloves of garlic (8 if they are really large)
  • 1/3 c olive oil plus about 2 T for roasting
  • 3 T white wine vinegar (I used one infused with tarragon)
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Then you…

  1. Preheat the oven to 325. Remove the garlic cloves from the bulb. Using the side of a large kitchen knife, press down on each clove to lightly crack it.  Leave the papery skin on each clove.  Place the cloves in a small baking dish and drizzle with about 2 T of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake about 15-25 minutes or until the cloves are starting to turn deliciously golden (you will also be able to smell wonderful roast garlic aromas).
  2. Remove the garlic from the oven and allow to cool until you can touch them, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove the skins from the garlic. Place the “undressed” garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with just a little bit of salt. Using the side of the large kitchen knife, mash the roasted garlic into a paste.
  4. To make the dressing, you can either use a small kitchen mixer or place all of the ingredients into a small jar with a lid. The mixer will be quick and easy to emulsify the dressing. If you use the jar, you will cover and shake well to emulsify.
  5. Place the mashed garlic in the mixer.  Add the other ingredients, and be sure to use the leftover olive oil from the roasting, since it has soaked up all sorts of garlic flavor!  Cover and pulse until well blended and creamy.

This stores in the fridge for several days in a sealed container.  I usually have a collection of empty jars from artichoke hearts or bouillon cubes that work great for dressings, although you could always invest in a more specialized bottle.

As a note, don’t be scared off by all the garlic.  When you roast it, it loses the sharp flavor of raw garlic and takes on a nutty and mild flavor.  It’s well off-set by the mustard, honey, olive oil and vinegar, especially if you pick your favorite infused versions!

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Salmon en papillote

June 9, 2010

“Salmon in paper.”  So easy and light, and yet you will impress anyone at your table.  You can use just about any combination of veggies, so the possibilities are endless! You can also make this with filets or steaks of fish.

You will need:

  • 4 filets (6 oz) fresh salmon
  • 1 lemon, sliced thin
  • 1 small bundle of asparagus, cut into manageable bites
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced thin
  • A handful of capers
  • 2 T margarine
  • Salt and pepper
  • Any other desired seasonings (i.e. herbs de provence, lemon-pepper, splash of white wine, etc.)
  • 4 large pieces of parchment paper or aluminum foil

Then you…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Set one piece of fish on each piece of paper/foil near the middle. Season with salt, pepper and any other spices desired.
  2. Top each piece of fish with lemon slices.  Place 1/4 of the vegetables on either side of one of the pieces of fish. Dot with 1/2 T margarine.
  3. Seal up the fish into a small packet.  Place on a baking sheet and bake about 20-25 minutes or until just cooked through.
  4. Serve hot and fragrant!
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Conchiglie Balsamico

June 2, 2010

This past weekend was my annual college Reunions, which means I had the chance to enjoy many of my favorite restaurants in the area.  One of them, Teresa’s Caffe, has a delicious conchiglie balsamico that is one of my main go-to dishes.  This is my variation, and I must say it comes pretty close to replicating their delectable dish.  Plus it’s great at this time of year when asparagus is all over the place!

You will need…

  • 3/4 lb whole wheat small shells or conchiglie
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes (optional)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 lb chicken breast, diced
  • 2 small bunches of asparagus, cleaned and trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/4 of a small onion, grated
  • 3 T margarine
  • 4 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 pint cream (heavy or light)
  • 6-8 T balsamic vinegar (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Then  you…

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with the bouillon cubes.  Cook the pasta according to directions, removing 1-2 minutes before al dente (will continue cooking in the sauce after).  Drain.
  2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil.  Saute the chicken until starting to brown. Add the asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the asparagus is tender but still crispy.  Remove from heat and store the mixture in a large bowl.
  3. In the same skillet, melt the margarine.  Add the garlic and onion and cook for about 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and season with pepper.  Cook until just starting to caramelize. Add to the bowl with the chicken and asparagus.
  4. In the same skillet, add 6 T of balsamic vinegar and allow to cook for about 1 minute.  Mix in the heavy cream, stirring well. Taste and add more vinegar if a stronger flavor is desired, 1 T at a time. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce.  Add the cooked pasta and mix well.  Allow to sit, covered, for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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