Archive for April, 2011

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Cantaloupe Napoleons

April 29, 2011

There is a French pastry that a little bakery in my hometown makes to perfection called the Napoleon. It’s layers of pastry cream with puff pastry and a simple vanilla sugar icing. This weekend I made my own variation on the theme of layers of pastry and cream for a picnic dinner with some friends. It takes a bit of effort to put together, so it’s a good dessert for a celebration. Here you go!

You will need:

  • 1/2 of a package of frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 3 t cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 T flour
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1 c light cream
  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 c cantaloupe puree (~ half of a small, ripe cantaloupe blended in a food processor)
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 pt whipping cream
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 1/4 t almond extraact
  • 4 T boiling water

Then you…

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Unwrap the phyllo dough and, using kitchen shears, cut into roughly 8 rectangles.
  3. Stir cocoa into the melted butter and brush the mixture between the layers of each rectangle to hold it together.
  4. Bake until cooked through and golden, roughly 10 minutes.
  5. Remove and let cool.
  6. In a heavy, medium saucepan, stir together sugar, flour and salt over medium heat.
  7. Slowly stir in light cream. Cook and stir until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
  8. Cook and stir for 1 minute more.
  9. Slowly stir about half of the hot mixture into beaten egg yolks to temper them.
  10. Return all to saucepan.
  11. Stir in the cantaloupe puree.
  12. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
  13. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
  14. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap and cool just until warm without stirring.
  15. In a small mixing bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into warm pastry cream. Chill up to three hours.
  16. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar and the almond extract. Stir in enough boiling water to make an icing of spreading consistency.
  17. Split each phyllo rectangle into two layers.
  18. Spread the icing on the top layer. Allow to set.
  19. To serve, place the bottom layer of one rectangle on a plate. Top with several spoonfuls of the cantaloupe cream.
  20. Top with the iced half of the rectangle and drizzle with chocolate (optional).
  21. Enjoy with friends!
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Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Mushroom Linguine

April 26, 2011

This is a variation on Swedish meatballs…if they met some mushroom sauce and whole wheat linguine at a bar.

You will need:

  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • 1/4 c low-fat milk
  • 3 T butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/4 t ground allspice
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 lb whole wheat linguine
  • 2 lb mixed mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 T ground mustard powder
  • 3 T fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 c white wine
  • 3/4 c light cream
  • 1/2 c Parmesan/Romano mix, grated

Then you…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil.
  2. Tear the bread into small pieces (removing any crust). Place in a small mixing bowl with the milk. Set aside.
  3. In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the beef and turkey.
  5. In a blender, combine the milk-soaked bread, egg yolks, salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg and onion. Pulse until pureed.
  6. Mix into the meat mixture until well blended.
  7. Shape into meatballs and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  8. Bring a large part of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to the box, removing 1-2 minutes shy of al dente.
  9. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms until very golden and soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  10. Add the leeks, garlic, thyme and mustard to the mushrooms. Saute about 5 minutes.
  11. Stir in the white wine and allow to reduce 5 minutes.
  12. Stir in the cream and meatballs. Heat through.
  13. Toss the pasta with the creamy mushrooms and meatballs. Mix in the grated cheese and allow to sit a couple of minute so the sauce infuses the pasta.
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Popover Pancakes

April 23, 2011

This was a breakfast treat when I was growing up. It’s a simple recipe that has been in my momm’s family for generations, and it’s sure to be a nice twist on your traditional breakfast pancake. It gets all sorts of fluffy and crispy on the outside, while staying chewy on the inside. They can be pretty filling, so find a partner to split one with on the next quiet Sunday morning at home.  They taste great with just a dusting of powdered sugar or some maple syrup. The other day I had a couple of kiwis in my fridge, so I blended them with a tablespoon of sugar and made a quick sauce.

You will need:

  • 4 T margarine or butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 t nutmeg

Then you…

  1. Preheat your oven to 425.
  2. Melt butter in a glass pie pan.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs until light and fluffy.
  4. Whisk in the flour, milk and nutmeg until airy.
  5. Pour the batter into the middle of the melted butter.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. (I usually using a baking sheet under the pie plate).
  7. Eat while hot!
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Turkey, Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Shells

April 20, 2011

I saw this Giada recipe and couldn’t wait to try it. I added some spinach and a few other tweaks, but her recipe stands on its own. It’s a great recipe to make in advance and freeze for a busy night. Then all you need to do is preheat the oven and pop in the pan of delicious shells.

You will need:

  • 5 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 oz sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 2 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (28-oz + 14.5-oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 (12-oz) box jumbo pasta shells
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 t salt, divided
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 jar (8 to 10-oz) package marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 c frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water drained/squeezed out
  • 1 (15-oz) container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 c grated Parmesan Parmesan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 c grated mozzarella

Then you…

  1. In a large, high-sided pot, heat 2 T of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the canned sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the turkey, 1/2 t salt, and 1/4 t black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through.
  7. Add the artichoke hearts and spinach, and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.
  8. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, oregano, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  9. To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9x13x2-inch baking dish with about 1 cup of the sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with the turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. (I found it easier to do by hand than with a spoon). Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish.
  10. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Cover the shells with the remaining sauce and top with the grated mozzarella.
  11. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and tinfoil. Freeze for up to 1 month.
  12. To bake, preheat oven to 400. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)
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Zucchini Pancakes

April 16, 2011

The other night I tried out some zucchini pancakes with some zucchinis I got in my last fresh produce basket. They were really tasty, and I actually thought they re-heated quite well. Hope you like them too!

You will need:

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 T grated onion
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t ground mustard powder
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 8 to 10 T flour
  • 4 T shredded cheese
  • Butter and olive oil

Then you…

  1. Preheat your oven to 300. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a wire baking rack.
  2. In a small bowl, combine together the eggs and onion. Mix in the baking powder, salt, pepper and mustard.
  3. Grate the zucchini into a large mixing bowl using a large grating width.
  4. Stir in the egg mixture.
  5. Mix in 8 T of the flour, adding in the additional flour if needed to thicken.
  6. Stir in the shredded cheese.
  7. Melt 1/2 T butter and heat 1/2 T olive oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium-low and drop batter into the pan.
  9. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through.
  10. Transfer cooked pancakes to prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
  11. Quickly rinse the cooking pan, and then repeat steps 7-10 until all the pancakes are made.
  12. Enjoy best while hot.
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Hot Spicy Nuts

April 13, 2011

Eater beware. These nuts are particularly addictive. So addictive that I can only make them when I know there is an event or holiday coming up, because I need to share them with others as soon as possible after they’re prepped. These hot, spicy nuts are yummy and sure to please — a wonderful outcome to a simple preparation.

You will need:

  • 3/4 c plus 2 T sugar
  • 2 T  butter
  • 2 c raw walnut halves
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper

Then you…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place 3/4 cup of the sugar in a medium, heavy-bottomed skillet. Cook over high heat, stirring, until it turns a light caramel color, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the butter and stir until it’s melted and the foam subsides. Add the nuts and stir to coat evenly with the mixture.
  4. Transfer the nuts to one of the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes, until the nuts are toasted.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 T of sugar, salt, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  6. Remove from the oven and pour the hot nuts into a medium-size bowl. Add the seasoning mixture and toss the nuts very quickly again and again to coat them evenly. Immediately transfer the nuts to the other baking sheet lined with parchment paper and separate the individual nuts with a fork.
  7. Caution! The nuts will be extremely hot due to the sugar. Allow to cool completely before serving.

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Sweet Squash Bread

April 2, 2011

If you’ve never tried a squash or zucchini bread, you are missing out. There’s something about baking with winter and summer squashes that brings out their sweetness in ways you don’t get while cooking. I made this bread with some yellow summer squash, but it is equally scrumptious with zucchini. Also note that I used applesauce instead of vegetable oil here. If you didn’t have any applesauce in your pantry or fridge, you could substitute oil or melted margarine.

You will need:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 2 c squash, grated and squeezed to rid of extra moisture (~ 4 medium-small summer squash)

Then you…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, blend together the eggs, sugar, applesauce, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, and flour.
  4. Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture.
  5. Stir in the grated squash until just mixed.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until the bread is golden and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, approx. 45 minutes.
  7. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes; then unmold and allow to cool completely on the rack.

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