Savory, Sides

Sauteed Mushrooms and Spinach

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Now that it is grilling season, I am spending most of the time making sides and salads to go with whatever protein is being cooked on the grill.  This is a quick and hearty side dish that will pair really well with a nice steak.  This side dish is good at any time of year so consider it for your holiday meals as well!

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Ingredients:

4 oz of mixed mushrooms (scale up for a larger portion)

1 cup of fresh baby spinach leaves

2 Tbsp of olive oil

1 medium shallot, sliced

1/4 tsp of minced garlic

2 tsp of soy sauce

1 tsp of balsamic vinegar

a pinch of nutmeg

cracked black pepper to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a large skillet and add shallots and mushrooms.  Sautee on medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes till the vegetables start to soften.

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Add the minced garlic, nutmeg, and spinach.  Continue to sautee as the spinach wilts.

Finish the dish with soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.  Add liquid and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom on the skillet.  Continue to saute till all the liquid evaporates, about 1-2 minutes.

Taste the veggies and add additional salt the (sodium levels will depend on the type of soy sauce you use) and cracked black pepper.  I add a lot of pepper because that is the way we like it.

Serve piping hot with a juicy steak!

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Cake, Sweet

Cardamom Almond Cake

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Cardamom is one of my favorite spices.  So when I saw this recipe, I had to make.  What makes it even more special is that I used duck eggs in this recipe, to yield a richer, more moist cake.  The original recipe was written for a 9-inch cake, but I wanted to make a smaller portion–after all, it is just the two of us in this lockdown. The cake came out delicious and the duck eggs give it a wonderfully rich texture and a beautiful golden yellow color.  The cardamom taste is floral and prominent but softened by the nuttiness of the almond flour  You can, of course, make this with regular eggs, I have recommendations below:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 duck eggs (2 extra-large chicken eggs or three regular-sized eggs)

1 tsp of almond extract

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp of cardamom

2 and 1/4 cups of almond flour

2 Tbsp of apricot jam (optional for glazing the cake)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour on 6-inch cake pan.

Mix almond flour, sugar, and cardamom in a bowl.

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In a separate bowl (or measuring cup) which together with the almond extract, oil, and eggs.

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Mix wet and dry ingredients, folding them together to create a smooth batter.

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Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 mins (depending on your oven temperature) till a tooth-pick comes out clean.

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Cool the cake on a wire rack and during the cooling process, spread the apricot jam (warmed–so that it spreads easily) on top of the cake to create a lovely glaze.

Serve at room temperature, we had it with fresh berries, but it is wonderful just as it is.

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Poultry, Quick Dinner, Savory

Tequila Lime Chicken

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It is warm in New England, which means, it is finally grilling season!  Thank god for that because boring chicken breast tastes best when grilled.  Here is a fun marinade for chicken tenders which I adapted (a.k.a made a smaller batch) from Ina Garten’s recipe.  As long as you have all the ingredients, it is super easy!

Ingredients:

8-10, boneless, skinless chicken tenders

1/4 cup tequila

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 Tbsp of chili powder

1/2 Tbsp of minced garlic

1 jalapeno, diced (remove the seeds if you don’t want it to be spicy)

1 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of black pepper

Method:

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Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl or large measuring cup.

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Pour the marinade over the chicken in a zip-top plastic bag and marinate in the fridge for 4-6 hours.

Bring the chicken to room temperature and grill till cooked through.

I like to serve this particular chicken with a salad/salsa made with black beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, bell peppers, and scallions.  I like to dress this salad/salsa with a little bit of lime juice (prevents the avocados from browning), salt, and pepper.

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Serve the chicken hot and the salad at room temperature.  I would recommend eating this meal outside with a cold margarita!!

 

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Savory, Sides

Foolproof Popovers

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Popovers would be best described as the New England cousin of the English Yorkshire pudding.  My first introduction to popovers was in college when we would go to a local restaurant called Judie’s.  I have fond memories of Judie’s popovers with apple butter.  Being a New England native, my husband too loves popovers.  So much so, that we had them at our wedding.  It was important to have a recipe for popovers and I had stumbled across this many years ago while watching FoodNetwork.  Ever since then, I have been following the recipe to the “t” and it is truly foolproof!  You can find the recipe here

 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons melted butter, divided

2 eggs

1 cup milk, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave (should be lukewarm to warm)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt ( I add some black pepper too)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Using a pastry brush, coat 6 muffin cups (I like the muffin tins that are made for extra-large muffins) with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and put the tin in the oven for 5 minutes.  I like to cut up 1 tbsp of butter and divide it into the cups, melt them in the oven while it is pre-heating.  Then I use a brush to coat the cups with the melted butter.

 

Meanwhile, mix the eggs in a blender until light yellow.

 

Add the warmed milk and blend. Add the flour, salt, and remaining melted butter, and blend until smooth.

 

Pour the batter into the warmed muffin tin.  Try to divide the batter evenly amongst each tin to yield popovers that are the same size.

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Return it to the oven to bake until golden, about 35 minutes.  It is critical to NOT OPEN THE OVEN during the baking process

Remove from the oven and serve warm.

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Poultry, Savory

Chicken Roulade

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The humble bird gets an elegant makeover.  This is a showstopper but does require a bit of effort and planning.  I made it extra hard on myself as I did not have a single, large piece of chicken breast to work with.  Usually, you can take a large piece of breast meat, cut it open like a book, pound and thin, and then fill and roll like a jelly roll.  I only had thin cutlets (these cuts are really popular because my husband loves cutlets and Jägerschnitzel), which made the process a bit more challenging.  As for the filling, this is where you can get creative.  I use roasted red peppers and prosciutto, I have read recipes with spinach, cheese, and tomatoes.  Anyway, this is a labor of love, but certainly, worth it if, you like me, are bored with eating chicken!

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Ingredients:

For the Roulade:

5-6 thin chicken cutlets OR 1 large chicken breast, cut open like a book and pounded thin

1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

5 slices of prosciutto

2-3 roasted red peppers from a jar, shredded (you can use your fingers for this, they are usually really soft)

For dredging and frying:

1/8 cup flour

1/4 tsp of salt, black pepper and poultry seasoning (1/4 tsp of each)

1 Tbsp of olive oil

For the pan sauce:

1 medium shallot, sliced

1/2 Tbsp of olive oil

1/2 cup chicken stock, plus an additional 1/4 cup if you need to cook the chicken longer

4 Tbsp of white wine

1/2 tsp of dried parsley ( use fresh if you can, I did not have any)

Method:

Shingle the thin chicken cutlets to form a sort of continuous sheet of chicken.  You will want to do this over a plastic food cutting board.

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Cover the “sheet” of chicken with a large piece of plastic wrap and then flip the cutting board.  img_20200508_110424img_20200508_110437img_20200508_110525This will ensure that the plastic wrap is on the very bottom and the chicken on top.  Lift the cutting board to start the filling process.

Season the chicken sheet with salt, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.

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Arrange the prosciutto slices to cover the entire sheet of chicken.

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Using your fingers, shred the roasted red pepper on top of the prosciutto.

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Now, very carefully, ensuring that you get all the pieces of chicken to move in unison, roll up the chicken tightly like a jelly-roll.

Wrap the rolled-up chicken tightly, with the plastic wrap underneath.

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Twist the free ends of the plastic (two ends of the chicken roll) tightly.  The tighter you twist the more cylindrical the roulade will get.

Chill the roulade for 3-4 hours.  Longer the better.

When you are ready to cook the roulade, place the roulade in a shallow skillet (plastic-wrap and all) and fill with some water and bring it to a simmer.  Continue to simmer the roulade till the chicken turns from pink to white.  Remove from the skillet and place on a cutting board.  Remove the plastic wrap and cool the roulade.

On a plate, mix all the ingredients fro dredging.  Roll to coat the cooled roulade.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add the roulade and all the excess flour into the pan– you will need the excess flour to make the sauce.

Brown the roulade on all sides (2-3 minutes per side).  Remove from the pan and set aside.

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Add the sliced shallot and 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil to the same pan and sautee the shallots till golden.

Add the wine and chicken stock to the pan and turn the heat to medium-low and simmer till the stock reduces.

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In the meantime, slice the roulade with a serrated knife.  Depending on the thickness of the roulade, the chicken may or may not be cooked all the way through.  I notice that my roulade was not cooked all the way, so I returned the slices to the pan with the sauce and added an additional 1/4 cup of chicken stock.

Cook the slices till cooked through and the sauce is reduced.  You may have to remove the slices out of the skillet and continue to reduce the sauce.

Spoon the sauce over the roulade and serve with your choice of sides.  I made green beans and rice pilaf.

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Breakfast, Sweet

Oatmeal Breakfast Loaf with blueberries

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As you all know by now, I always try to come up with new ways to “package” my oatmeal in the morning.  You can also tell that blueberries are really popular in my house (refer to Blueberry-Almond Oatmeal MuffinsGluten-free Blueberry Corn Muffins).  Here is my latest experiment–it consists of oatmeal and cornmeal and it low in sugar and it gluten-free.

Ingredients:

2 cups oatmeal

1 cup stone-ground, yellow cornmeal

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of baking powder

1/8 cup of sugar + 1 Tbsp for sprinkling

2 eggs

1 cup almond milk

8 oz plain greek yogurt

zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 cup blueberries

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix yogurt, eggs, almond milk in a large measuring cup (or bowl)

In a separate bowl, mix oats, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest, and sugar.

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Slowly fold in the wet and the dry ingredients.  Add the lemon juice and mix in thoroughly.  I like to mix the lemon juice at the end because I don’t want the milk or yogurt to curdle when I mix all the wet ingredients together.

The last step is to fold in the blueberries.

In the greased loaf pan, pour in the batter and spread it evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining 1Tbsp of sugar over the top.  This will create a golden, sugary top which is really nice for an otherwise “not-so-sweet” quick bread.

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Bake for 25 mins.  After that, you can turn on the broiler to High for 2-3 minutes to encourage the sugar to brown and the blueberries to burst!

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Let the loaf cool before using a serrated knife to slice the loaf.

Serve warm!

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Appetizers, Savory, Sides

Zucchini Fritters

 

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In India, on a raw, rainy night, you will often find family members gathered over hot cups of tea and plate of piping hot fried fritters.  These fritters are usually vegetarian, like potato, onion, and eggplant (all separate–not mixed together).  Yesterday, a beautiful sunny spring day turned into a gloomy, rainy evening–which led me to crave fried food.  I could have pulled out some samosas, but I have zucchini in the fridge that needed to be used.  Also, earlier in the day, I came across this recipe in Cooking Light magazine, so it must have been a combination of all these different sensory inputs (haha, can you tell I am a biologist?) that led to this recipe.

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchinis, grated and drained

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 small onion, minced

1 egg

2 Tbsp of flour

1 Tbsp of rice flour

1/2 tsp of salt

A dash of black pepper

1 tsp of olive oil for the batter plus more for frying

Method:

Grate and or chop finely the zucchini.  If you have a food processor, you can grate it.  I have a handheld grater which almost pulverizes the zucchini.  So, for some texture I grated one and chopped the other–the different textures give the fritters some body.

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Place the zucchini on a paper towel or dishcloth and let it drain for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

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Squeeze out all the water and add the zucchini to a mixing bowl.

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Add egg, flours, salt, pepper, jalapenos, and oil to the zucchini and mix thoroughly.

Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a skillet.  Using a tablespoon, gently dollop the batter into the hot oil.  Using the back of the spoon, flatten out the dollops to form a pancake shape.

Fry on medium-high to high heat for 2-3 minutes or till golden brown.  Then flip the fritters and cook the other side.

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Blot the fritters on a paper towel and serve piping hot!  This makes a great evening snack or a hearty side dish for a simple chicken dinner.

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Fish & Seafood, Lent, Mexican, Savory

Chili lime Shrimp

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I have said this before and I will say it again, I love shrimp tacos! The only problem is that my husband is a hard-shell-beef-taco purist and, in my opinion, tacos are a social food.  It is rather sad to have all the elaborate fixings just for one!  Nevertheless, in grad-school, when I would have to cook for one, I would make simple small-batch shrimp tacos, but it never really “feels” the same.  So, I rarely get to eat shrimp tacos, unless we go out for Mexican food.  Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo and I love “occasion” cooking.  Obviously, we had tacos–my husband made beef ones and I made myself some shrimp tacos, only because we had cooked shrimp for “cocktail” sauce in the freezer.  I wanted to make a warm dressing to sautee the already cooked shrimp in, hence this recipe.  This is a super quick preparation and packs a punch for pre-cooked shrimp.  They were delicious, and my only complaint was that I wish I had soft-shells!

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp of chopped scallions, only the white and light green parts.  Save the green tops for garnish

1 Tbsp of olive oil

1 tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of chipotle chili powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp of salt

1 and 1/2 Tbsp of fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp of water

16-18 medium-sized pre-cooked shrimp.

Method:

Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.

Add all the scallions and spices.  Bloom the spices with the scallions in the oil for 2-3 minutes.

 

Add the shrimp, lime juice, and water and cook for an additional 3 minutes till the liquid reduces to create a “dry” sauce.

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Remove from heat, you don’t want the already cooked shrimp to cook any longer, they will become really rubbery.  If you were starting with raw shrimp (which I would have preferred) cook till the shrimps are pink in color.

 

Garnish with chopped green scallions and get ready to stuff those tacos !!

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Asian, Indian, Savory, Stew

Coconut Pork Curry

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This is an amazing recipe!! Originally written in 2010, in Food and Wine magazine, I did not have the means to make the recipe till 2016.  I had bookmarked the recipe for 5 years and was waiting to have a kitchen of my own to make it. In 2016, my mother came to visit during the summer, and this was the perfect meal to make for her!  Unlike, my father, she grew up eating pork, so she really appreciated it.  I was intrigued by this recipe, it looked like a cross between an Indian and Thai dish.  Anyway, I made it and it was super hit!  In fact, my mother said that it tasted like a “curry” her mother used to make–what a compliment and what a food memory!  You can find the original recipe here.  I would strongly recommend following the recipe, word for word!  With that said, during the current pandemic,  I did not find pork shoulder, so I had to (with great trepidation) substitute with pork tenderloin.  Thankfully, after cooking for four hours, the meat did become soft and fork-tender.  I also never cook this in a slow-cooker; I love making it in my large dutch oven.  I also add a good amount of additional spices, mostly because it suits our palette.  Here is my tweaked version.

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon mild curry powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon of ground coriander

1/2 tablespoon of chili powder

1/2 tablespoon of sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

1/2 tsp of garam masala at the end

a bunch of chopped cilantro and sliced scallions, for stirring into the curry at the very end.

Method:

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper.  Brown the pork in batched and set aside.

Once the pork is done, add the onion, garlic, ginger, curry, cumin, coriander, chili powder, paprika, and turmeric and cook over low heat, stirring, until fragrant and the onion is softened about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices and coconut milk and scrape the bottom of the pan, lifting all the delicious brown bits from the bottom.

Return the pork to the pot, add the stock, cover, and cook on medium-high for 4 hours.

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At the 2 hour mark, I like to taste and the stew and adjust for salt and heat, mostly the heat—our household like a spicy stew.  Notice how the light creamy color is turning into a rich, dark stew–yum!

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Towards the end of the cooking process, add a bunch of chopped cilantro and scallions to the stew, stir and cook for another 15-20 minutes and remove from heat.

 

Serve with steamed rice or, our favorite, naan

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Savory, Sides

Roasted Broccoli Rabe

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This is a quick side dish that tastes great with seafood.  Leftovers are great in a sandwich or chopped up in pasta.  It also happens to be a super easy recipe; in fact, it really isn’t a recipe at all!  Here is how I make it.  Substitute with fresh broccoli florets if you can’t find broccoli rabe.

Preheat oven to 350F

Cut up two small bunches of broccoli rabe and arrange on a baking sheet.

Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

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Roast for 15-20 mins till golden brown.

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Side dish sorted!