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Posts Tagged ‘easy recipes’

Chard

 

With the recent mad embrace of kale, other greens are getting lost in the fray.  I, personally, prefer Swiss chard to kale or any other green.  I find it sweeter with less mineral flavor and I cook it at least once a week sometimes with pasta or grains but most often in the following fashion –
I generally use 2 bunches organic chard which I chop into pieces.  I always use the stems too.  I heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil with a couple of mashed garlic cloves over low heat.  I add the zest of an orange and a couple of tablespoons of orange juice.  Then, I add the chard, cover, and steam for a few minutes.  Then, I uncover, raise the heat, and, using tongs, toss the greens until just barely cooked through.  You can also cook them until very dark green and soft but I prefer the chard to still be a bit fresh looking.

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Fresh Pea Soup_DSC_4303

 

You know I can’t really remember how I made this soup.  I believe that I had some well-flavored and leftover chunky potato soup in the fridge to start the recipe.  I had some fresh peas (in the pod) from which I removed the stem end and any strings that came along with the ends and a few pea shoots which I pureed together in the food processor fitted with the metal blade.  I added the pea puree to the potato soup (which already had onion, garlic, thyme and chicken stock and maybe something else) and just barely heated it up to keep the lovely soft green color.  I kept a few pea shoots for garnish along with some type of edible flower – again I don’t remember what it was.  I could have pressed the soup through a sieve or pureed in the blender, but I rather liked the gently lumpy look.  The soup had a lovely pea flavor and I stretched the original leftover potato soup into a very appealing first course for 6 people.  Waste not, want not I say.

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Chanterelle_4546

 

Nobody loves mushrooms more than my son, Mickey.  He would eat them daily and the more obscure and expensive they are the more he likes them.  His usually are part of a rich sauce to accompany venison, or lamb, or lobster and he would never think of “wasting” them in pasta.  I, however, think they make a perfect mating with cheese and noodles so this is one of the ways I find to use beautiful chanterelles.  I find that they absorb the fattiness of the butter and cheese which only enhances their delicate, nutty flavor.

1 pound dried malfalda pasta or other noodles with a rippled or ridged edge
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and minced
½ pound chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half, lengthwise, if very large
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper for garnish

Place the pasta in a large pot of heavily-salted boiling water set over high heat.  
Return the water to the boil and boil according to package directions until al dente.  Remove from the heat and drain well, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or just until softened.  Add the chanterelles and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or just until the mushrooms are tender.  Remove from the heat.
When the pasta has cooked, add the drained pasta to the mushroom mixture, tossing to blend well.  Add the ricotta and parsley and again toss to coat.  Add a bit of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to “loosen” the sauce.  Taste and, if necessary, add salt and pepper.
Pour the pasta into a large pasta serving bowl.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and a bit of cracked black pepper and serve.

 

Chanterelle_4513

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Making Ricotta

Recently I’ve been trying my hand at making ricotta.  For sure it isn’t difficult, but it does take a bit of patience as you wait for the whey to separate from the curds (And don’t you just immediately think of Little Miss Muffet when you hear those words?).  After making a number of types I have settled on the following combo:
2 cups pasteurized but not homogenized whole milk (I use Ronnybrook)
1 cup heavy cream (ditto Ronnybrook)
1½ tablespoons white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt (this is optional)
First line a strainer with 3 layers of moist cheesecloth and set the strainer over a large glass bowl.  Then, combine the milk, cream, and salt in a in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Cook at a full boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar.  Allow the mixture to rest for about 1 minute or just until it separates into visible curds and whey.  Using slotted spoon, transfer the curds to the cheesecloth-lined strainer, cover with plastic film, and set aside to drain for about 25 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached.  The longer you allow the mixture to drain, the denser the finished cheese.  I’ve found that about 1 hour and 15 minutes gets the soft, creamy result that I’m looking for.  Transfer to a nonreactive container and store, covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
When I reached the mix I liked I shared it with some Italian friends.  The Northern Italians didn’t like the salt and the Southern Italians said a bit more salt.  I was happy that they both said it was a pretty good facsimile of ricotta from home.  Obviously I’m spoiled with my local Ronnybrook products, but I’ll bet you can find a version of delicious non-homogenized milks near your home.
About Ronnybrook Farms products (www.ronnybrook.com):  Their milk is pasteurized but not homogenized, so the cream floats to the top. The cream can be spooned off or shaken for the full flavor and benefits of whole milk. I shake for ricotta-making.   Ronnybrook heavy cream is 40% cream with flavor like cream bottled by small European dairies.  It is not ultra-pasteurized.

 

Ricotta_DSC_4242

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©StephenKolyer_ZucchiniEggRoll

It’s odd, but in our house we have definite zucchini lovers and haters. I’m not exactly the latter, but for sure it is not my favorite vegetable. Steve, my husband, loves it and our granddaughter, Canada, favors it also so I do try to find ways of cooking it that will appeal to both sides. One of my easier methods is to half it, lengthwise, and the cut it, crosswise, into little half-moon shapes. Then, I sauté some onions and garlic and add the zucchini to the pan just as they begin to color slightly. The moisture in the squash keeps the onions and garlic from burning and as it evaporates everything begins to brown. That’s when I add some tomatoes, red chile flakes, and season with salt and pepper. If the tomatoes add too much liquid, I’ll add a squeeze or two of tomato paste. When all of the vegetables have sorta melded together, I throw in some fresh herbs – basil, thyme, or rosemary. This mix makes a great base for some sliced grilled chicken breast or pork loin. Try it.

 

Zucchini_G10_IMG_0238

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Fall_Dinner_DSC_2381

 

We have been so busy with the promotion of An American Family Cooks that our meals have been a little haphazard – a pizza here, rice and beans (from our favorite Flor de Mayo on Amsterdam Avenue) there, a throw-together sandwich at the end of a long day have been too frequently on the table.  I promised Steve a quiet, indulgent, sit-down dinner and since fall had officially arrived with a bit of a chill in the air, it seemed time to get back to work in the kitchen.
Here’s what I put together.  Mashed sweet potatoes (mashed with a bit of butter and a touch of honey), sautéed spinach and mushrooms, and deliciously sweet Nantucket Bay scallops.  For the scallops, I placed about ½ cup of diced pancetta in a nonstick frying pan and cooked it until all of the fat had rendered out and I had a pan full of little crispy nuggets.  I scooped the nuggets from the pan and left a bit of the fat in.  I added the scallops which I had tossed in Wondra flour and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Gave them a quick flip around the pan to color slightly and set.  Removed them from the pan and added a little white wine and lemon juice.  Brought it to a boil and then whisked in a little pat of butter.  When slightly thick, I returned the pancetta to the pan and instantly had a lovely sauce for the plate.  We sat down to a quiet, indulgent dinner with a chilled bottle of Sancerre to quaff.  A lovely fall dinner, indeed.

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I was asked to make a Sunday dinner when we were visiting friends in Mill Valley (California) last month.  The days had been pretty chilly and damp so the menu was highlighted with a rich, winey beef stew BUT the star of the meal was the fresh porcini salad that began the feast.  The porcini had been foraged from the Marin hills just the day before – they were huge, dense, meaty, earthy, and oh! so delicious.  I gave them a quick sauté in extra virgin olive oil, laid them on some baby spinach leaves, sliced some ricotta salata over the top and drizzled the salad with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette.  What could possibly be better – but it only works when you have a skilled forager knocking on your back door!  I can assure you that this doesn’t happen in New York City.

 

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