Monday, December 22, 2008

Ligurian Chicken

Been making this for five years now... adapted from a NY Times recipe from chef Jamie Oliver. I had this on my old food blog, which I kept from 2000-04, but I never transferred it to this new one, so I am always hunting for the recipe. This is an excellent chicken preparation-- good for winter, and hearty yet light.

Ligurian Chicken

2 Tblsp. flour, mixed on a plate with salt and pepper
1 four pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces (bone-in)
2 Tblsp. olive oil
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
6 thinly sliced garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups white wine
1/2 cups Kalamata olives, with or without pits
3 ripe plum tomatoes, halved, seeded, and coarsely chopped

Dredge the pieces in 2 Tblsp. flour, mixed with salt and pepper, then saute them in olive oil over medium-high heat. Don't be tempted to touch them until they develop a golden crust and the juices are sealed in. Turn them over, adding four little branches of rosemary and 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced. When garlic softens but does not color, add 1 1/2 cups white wine and bring to a boil. Then add 1/2 cup kalamata olives, and 3 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped. Simmer partially covered until chicken is cooked and broth is reduced and tastes savory. The recipe said 15 to 20 minutes but the pieces of a big bird took slightly longer, so make sure it's done without overcooking it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

holiday cookies

I found two recipes for cookies this year that I will add to my library of cookies: Lemon Cornmeal Cookies (from this month's Cooking Light) and Triple Chocolate Cookies (originally from the Food Channel, altered slightly). The Lemon Cornmeal cookies are unusual; they develop a sugary crust on the bottom but are chewy on the inside from the cornmeal. The chocolate cookies are great-- and their ingredients can be altered slightly to make a different type of cookie each time. I will definitely be making these again.


1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup light-colored corn syrup
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together, set aside. In mixing bowl, blend butter and sugar until smooth. Add oil, corn syrup, lemon peel, and egg whites until well mixed. Slowly add flour mixture, mix well. Drop by tablespoons one inch apart on greased baking sheet, bake 10 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool cookies on tray on top of wire rack-- this helps to crisp them up a bit.


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (OR 1/3 cup brittle chips)
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix butter and sugar in mixer until well combined, add oil, egg, vanilla and mix until creamy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the two kinds of chocolate, and the walnuts and mix well. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Dressing

My mother's recipe, which I make every year:

3 T butter
1 c. finely chopped onions
6-8 cups white bread chunks, 1/2 inch
3 medium-sized apples, peeled and cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 c. coarsely chopped nuts (I use walnuts)
1/4 c. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper

Saute butter and onions, add other ingredients, toss to combine. Can be used to stuff turkey, or place in foil, covered, bake for 50 minutes at whatever temperature your turkey is cooking. Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Turkish pasta with eggplant, beef, and yogurt sauce

When I used to live in Turkey in the mid 1990s, one of the best foods I tasted there was manti, meat-filled dumplings served with a warm yogurt sauce. I had a Turkish friend, Sumer, who knew a place in her neighborhood that made the best ones, and we'd get them as take-out and watch movies at her apartment. I never tried tackling them, since dumplings can be time-consuming, but when this recipe appeared in last week's NY Times for an easy version of them, I decided to give them a try. I was worried they wouldn't live up to memory, but in fact, they were terrific. So good, in fact, that I will certainly make them again. Hearty, rich, creamy, spicy, yum... but it's necessary to use the real ingredients here-- shallots and not onions, Greek yogurt and not plain Ameican yogurt... I did, however, use beef instead of ground lamb because I'm just not that crazy about ground lamb, and I used parsley instead of dill because I couldn't find it...

1 large eggplant, cut in 1/2 -inch cubes
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
3 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1 pound ground beef
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, preferably Turkish or Aleppo
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 pound bowtie or orecchiette pasta

2 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Boil water for pasta. Toss eggplant with 4 Tblsp. oil and a generous pinch salt. Spread on baking sheet and roast until crisp and brown, 15-20 minutes.

In a skillet, heat 1 Tblsp oil. Saute 2 of the garlic cloves and shallot for 1-2 min. Add beef, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper, cook until done. Stir in parsley at end and saute another 2 minutes. Mix in eggplant.

Cook pasta. Meanwhile, melt as much butter as you want to use, cooking until it turns golden brown, about 5 min. In a separate bowl, mix together yogurt, remaining garlic and pinch of salt.

Drain pasta, place on serving platter. Top with meat-eggplant mixture, then yogurt sauce. Pour melted butter over top. Garnish with more parsley and pepper.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oven-fried catfish

This is one I have made several times, and each time I have to dig around to find the recipe, so it's time to launch it on the website. It's really good-- will satisfy a craving for fish and chips, but in a healthy way. I usually slice up some sweet potatoes, toss them with olive oil, cayenne pepper, paprika and salt, and roast them at about 450.

Oven-fried Catfish

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped pickles
2 teaspoons capers, chopped
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco

2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
4 (4-ounce) catfish fillets

Rolls, sliced tomatoes, lettuce...

Preheat oven to 450. Mix sauce ingredients: mayonnaise, relish, capers, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and Tabasco.

Combine flour, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place egg whites in a shallow bowl. Combine cornmeal, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder in a shallow dish. Dredge fish in flour, then egg whites, then cornmeal. Place on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Spray fish lightly with cooking spray, bake 6 minutes. Turn and spray again, bake another 6 minutes.

Serve immediately with sauce, making a sandwich if you like.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Blueberry Coffee Cake

I got this one from my friend Laurel. It's definitely as good as my standby coffee cake recipe; even better, in fact, since it features blueberries. It has a great, sugary streusel topping that will melt in your mouth. Make this one while it's still summer.

Blueberry Streusel Cake

1/3 c. butter or smart balance
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream
2 TB milk
1 3/4 cup flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. blueberries

4 T. butter, 4 T. flour, 2/3 c. brown sugar, 2 t. cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar until light and then add eggs. Beat well. Add remaining ingredients and pour into a greased 9" pan. Top with streusel and bake 40-45 minutes at 350.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies, a recipe from my friend Darla, are unusual-- there is no flour in them, but you would never guess from eating them. I altered her recipe to substitute organic Smart Balance instead of butter to keep out some of the fat and cholesterol, and it worked just fine. I like to think that these are somehow healthy, perhaps to justify having polished off an entire bag of them in two short days. (In my defense, I halved the recipe). They are, however, delicious, and will easily stand up to any oatmeal cookie recipe I've tried before:

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup butter or smart balance
6 cups regular oats
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups raisins
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter and pour in a mixing bowl. Add sugars, eggs, and peanut butter. Add oats, baking soda, raisins, and chocolate chips. Form into balls on a cookie sheet, flattening slightly. Bake fifteen minutes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Turkey and Eggplant Lasagna

Between the last posting and this one, our baby daughter was born-- a month early. Needless to say, I haven't been cooking much, but I have been relying on the kindness of family and friends for the majority of our meals. We received a couple of excellent lasagnas, but then after a month I was craving lasagna again, but didn't want to make the traditional, meat-heavy one or a fully vegetarian one. The other night I improvised, using a vegetarian recipe from this month's Cooking Light as a base (difference: the magazine version had zucchini and no spinach or turkey, nor did it call for roasting the eggplant) and came up with this one, which was so good I will definitely make it again.

Turkey & Eggplant Lasagna

1 large eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thickness
olive oil
1 large chopped onion
3 minced garlic cloves
3/4 pound ground turkey breast
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. or more ground red pepper
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 of a 10 ounce bag of fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup lowfat ricotta
1 package precooked lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350. Salt eggplant slices over several layers of paper towels and allow some of the water to drain out. After fifteen minutes, roast on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray while you do the other steps in this recipe.

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onions and garlic until translucent. Add ground turkey breast, cook through. Add 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, oregano, red pepper, and tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When ready, add spinach and stir until wilted. Turn off heat.

Remove eggplant from oven.

Combine basil, ricotta, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper in a bowl. Assembly: spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce into a 13x9 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Place four noodles over, top with half of the eggplant. Spread ricotta over eggplant, cover with four more noodles. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over noodles, top with the other half of the roasted eggplant. Add four more noodles, then remaining tomato mixture over top, and finally with mozarella. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray, bake 35 minutes. Remove foil-- bake 25 minutes more...

Num, num...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

I have a slow cooker I don't use very often. A neighbor gave it to us as a wedding gift several years ago, and each time I get inspired to use it, I start searching for recipes on the Internet, ending up discouraged when all the recipes seem like they're about hearty American fare I'm not always interested in eating, such as Brunswick stew. But I do like the idea of throwing a bunch of things in a pot and having them simmer slowly over a couple of hours, even if I'm still not convinced that a regular pot-on-stove couldn't do the same thing. Nonetheless, I tinkered with this easily adjustable vegetarian chili recipe from the Food Network and came up with the following. You could easily substitute other things you have on hand-- corn, different types of beans, eggplant or green pepper instead of zucchini, etc. With all the spices, this ends up being pretty flavorful.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes (you could use Mexican-flavored)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinced and drained
1 zucchini, chopped into small pieces (could substitute red or green pepper here)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeno (from can or jar) and/or canned chipotle pepper
1/2 cup portion butternut squash or sweet potato puree (optional)
1 Tblsp chili powder (I've been using Penzey's medium hot chili powder lately and it's sooo good)
1/2 Tblsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Your favorite cheese, shredded (sharp cheddar, mont. jack with jalapenos would be good)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put all ingredients up to Tabasco in slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, low for 6-8 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add more water if necessary. Just before serving, stir in cilantro. Serve with grated cheese on top, cornbread on the side, and if you like, a dash of sour cream.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Favorite Coffee Cake

I've been making this recipe for a while now, and it deserves to be recorded. Depicted here is a double recipe I made for some friends-- and people always eat the whole thing. Great for company, great for weekends, and not bad for you, either-- this is a Cooking Light recipe, adapted slightly. The sour cream makes it incredibly moist.

Favorite Coffee Cake

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large egg whites
1 cup low-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8x8 baking dish.
Combine first 3 ingredients; set aside.

Mix granulated sugar and butter with a mixer until well blended. Add egg whites, beat in sour cream and vanilla.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat well. Spread half of batter into baking pan, top with half of walnut-brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. Spread remaining batter over this. Top with remaining walnut-sugar mixture.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack.

12 servings, 243 calories each.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Chocolate & cream cheese pie, with secret ingredients...

I was really curious to try this recipe for heavenly pie from 101 Cookbooks. The recipe came from a 1970s hippie manual on living off the land. It looked so delicious on the website, and I was intrigued by the secret ingredient: silken tofu. And graham cracker crusts are my favorite. So I made it, and it was good. The filling is kind of like a combination of chocolate mousse and chocolate cheesecake, and I'm convinced the secret ingredient remains well-hidden. It definitely needs to be fully chilled to be at its best, but it slices nicely-- I just need to get better about figuring out how high to make my pie crusts so the filling comes just to the top. I've renamed it here, since "heavenly pie" sounds a little too ecstatic for me.

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons honey

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces organic silken tofu
1 large egg
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sweetened Greek yogurt or whipped cream for topping

Combine the cracker crumbs, butter, and honey in a food processor. Press into a 9-inch pie pan.

In either a mixer or a food processor, blend together the cream cheese, tofu, egg, chocolate, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides once or twice. Blend until smooth, looking out for any renegade cream cheese lumps.

Spoon the filling into the pie pan and bake at 350F degrees for about 30 minutes, no longer or surface starts to crack. CHILL COMPLETELY BEFORE SERVING. Serve with a dollop of sweetened yogurt or whipped cream (if desired).

I don't know if it would work with lowfat cream cheese, since that sometimes refuses to solidify in pies. I like the semi-sweet chocolate chips here-- they add just the right bite to it, whereas dark chocolate might be too bitter, while milk chocolate might be insipid.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Flavor tripping

A berry that makes sour taste sweet... sending your taste buds on an LSD trip for an hour or so.
is fascinating.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cookbook Review - Deceptively Delicious

Okay, so this isn't the latest in slow food or Spanish nouvelle cuisine... but when I found Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to get your Kids Eating Good Food on sale at (c)Ross Dress-for-Less, I decided to get it. I was intrigued by the concept (vegetable purees artfully concealed in typical "kids' food" like brownies or spaghetti), and I saw it as a possible way to sneak more vegetables into my own diet as well as preparing for future arrivals (in whom pickiness will not be tolerated, but we'll see). A disclaimer: aside from PB&J sandwiches at lunch, my mother never fed me typical American kids' food, but I discovered it in high school when I first tried macaroni & cheese, and I've had a weakness for it ever since.

The basic concept behind this cookbook is that you make a bunch of purees out of steamed & roasted vegetables, store them in snack-size plastic baggies in the freezer, and whenever you need to add something to your food, you defrost in a bowl of water for 30 minutes or so. Then you follow the recipes, which range from souffles, muffins, and french toast for mornings, meatloaf, mozzarella sticks, spaghetti, burgers, and quesadillas for daytime fare, and brownies and cookies (made with garbanzo beans!) for dessert. I bought butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower to make purees, and those were relatively easy to do, so now my freezer is stocked. Then I tried some of the recipes.

In the "would make again" category: French toast (with sweet potato), macaroni & cheese (again w/butternut squash), chicken nuggets (a maybe), turkey chili, creamy potato soup. In the "disgusting disaster" category, spaghetti pie and oatmeal. To start with the spaghetti pie: the cookbook shows a picture of a cheesy, crunchy baked spaghetti topped with broccoli-infused meatballs. To be sure, the broccoli was subtle enough that you couldn't really taste it, but I was suspicious when I saw the recipe did not ask you to saute the meatballs before simply placing them, raw, on top of the spaghetti pie. I was also suspicious of two cups of tomato sauce for only three ounces of spaghetti. Even though I was using 93% lean ground beef, grease was still floating over everything, the noodles drowned in the tomato sauce, and despite my attempts to bail out the poor drowning meatballs by scooping out excess liquid, the dish never achieved its desired consistency. The morning oatmeal with sweet potato, milk and brown sugar was also a little too rich for breakfast, though I love oatmeal in general.

The real standouts so far have been the macaroni and cheese and the turkey chili. Who knew that butternut squash could add such a mellow, creamy sweetness to mac-and-cheese. Turkey chili was pretty decent too, especially with my new favorite recipe for sweet cornbread (below), which is almost like a decadent cake. Depicted here (or will be depicted here, as soon as Blogger uploads my photo) are the chicken nuggets with the aforementioned mac-and-cheese, and while in the chicken nuggets, the proportion of puree is WAY too high (you'll have more than you need to dip them in, and they'll turn out slightly soggy), the mac-and-cheese is perfect.

What I learned more than anything is that I can just throw vegetable purees into a number of the recipes I make regularly anyway, and that I may not need follow a special cookbook to do so.. all you do is steam or roast the vegetables, throw them in the blender or food processor, then store them in 1/2 cup size portions.

Macaroni & Cheese 1 (adapted slightly from Deceptively Delicious)

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
1 T olive oil
1 T flour
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 c. butternut squash OR cauliflower puree
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (my favorite addition to everything)
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. pepper

Boil macaroni until al dente. Drain. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan, add flour, and cook until you have a thick paste but mixture has not yet browned. Add milk slowly and cook until thick, 3-4 minutes. Add vegetable puree, cheeses, and seasonings, stir until cheese melts and sauce is smooth. Mix with macaroni and serve warm.

And this cornbread recipe, which I found on, is out of this world if you like sweet, dense, cake-like cornbread:


1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1 Tblsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 8" square baking dish.

Combine flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, eggs, vegetable oil and butter in small bowl; mix well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour batter into greased 8-inch-square baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. If you want muffins, bake for 18-20 minutes.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

chocolate pudding

This is a good, low-fat recipe for chocolate pudding, originally from Cooking Light. I've experimented with different types of chocolate, and you can't go wrong, whether you prefer semi-sweet, bittersweet, or milk chocolate. I actually like to eat the pudding when it's still hot, but technically you're suposed to refrigerate it:

Chocolate Pudding

2 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Bring 2 cups of the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, mix sugar with cornstarch and salt. Separately, combine remaining 1/2 cup milk with egg yolks, mixing well. Add egg yolk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring with a whisk. Slowly add half of the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly (you do this so the eggs don't curdle). Return everything to saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer one minute, stirring, until thick. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate, mixing until melted.

Spoon pudding into a bowl. Place bowl in a large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until pudding is cool, stirring occasionally. Or eat it while it's hot, then cover remainder and chill.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

split pea soup

Probably most of us need to eat more vegetables. I can always manage to incorporate one or two in a day, and I can do vegetarian entrees, but I often find myself lacking imagination with side dishes or easy main courses. Usually I don't beat myself up about it, but there's a baby on the way so I've been trying to eat better. (I'm also feeling the urgency to catalog all the recipes I make on a regular basis so I will have easy dinner ideas to turn to once my life turns upside down). On a lazy Saturday when I might otherwise succumb to the urge to just make cheese quesadillas for lunch, I've been making the split pea soup recipe from 101 cookbooks. These are the quantities I use for two people, especially since it's so easy you can make it again sometime, and you may not feel like eating leftovers later...

Split Pea Soup

1 onion, chopped
dash olive oil
1 cup green split peas, rinsed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vegetable boullion (I use Better Than Boullion)
2 1/2 cups water
dash cumin or smoked paprika
lemon juice (optional)

Saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add split peas, boullion, salt, and 2 1/2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, at least 20 minutes, until peas are tender. Mash with potato masher, add a dash of your favorite spice and a squeeze of lemon juice at the end. Serves 2.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Best Ever Muffins

I've adapted a muffin recipe to make it healthier, with the added result that putting wheat bran in gives these muffins a sweet, crunchy crust. Ideally this is with fresh cranberries, but I can't find them now that it's spring, so you can use dried cranberries, raisins, or blueberries instead. These are very quick to make.

Best Ever Muffins

1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups wheat bran (not wheat flour, but wheat bran)
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries (or 1 c. dried)
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup melted Smart Balance organic spread
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (or lemon)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add cranberries. In a separate bowl, combine milk, butter, orange peel, vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just enough to mix. Spoon batter into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 400° for 18 minutes. Remove muffins from pan; place on a wire rack.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sour Orange Marmalade

We have a normal orange tree and a tree that gives sour oranges... and after devouring every single one of the oranges from the sweet tree, we are always at a loss as to what to do with the fruit from other one. My mother helped me to make orange marmalade-- we improvised using her canning knowledge (she makes pear jelly every year), and quantities from a pectin package. Looking up recipes on the Internet (with fancier titles like "Valencia Orange Marmalade), I was deterred by how elaborate they were, but she had some good short cuts, so we didn't need muslin or a canning set-up to boil the jars later. With some homemade Moroccan bread Nour baked up at the end of the day, our marmalade ended up delicious, one of those glad-to-live-in-Florida experiences. I probably wouldn't make these without organic oranges just out of nervousness for all the chemicals, but since our trees have nothing on them, it's safe. For future reference, here's how we did it:

Sour Orange Marmalade

7 sour oranges
1 sweet navel orange
10 cups sugar (slightly less than a 5 lb. bag)
2 packages of sure-jell pectin (one box had 2 packages in it)
1 package canning wax (available at most grocery stores)
Assortment of jelly jars (also available at grocery stores, or Target)
Large pot, Dutch oven size

Using a vegetable peeler, remove just the orange part of the peel from the oranges. Chop up into small pieces, place peels in Dutch oven. Add 1 1/2 cups water and 1/8 tsp. baking soda, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, peel off the white part and throw it out. Squeeze the juice into a large bowl, then chop up the orange pieces, removing seeds, and throw the orange pieces into the bowl too. After peels have simmered 20 minutes, add the orange pieces and juice from the bowl, simmer 10 minutes.

You can stop here and do the rest another day if you want, putting it all in the fridge. The final steps: canning. It's not as difficult as it sounds. Wash your jars in hot, soapy water, rinse and drain. Take the lids and put them in a pot with boiling water for a few minutes, drain that.

Now find out how many cups of the juice/peel mixture you have. For six cups of the juice/peel mix, you need 10 cups sugar. We had 7 cups of juice/peel, so we measured out 11 cups sugar. Stir all the sugar into the juice/peel mixture, then bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in both packages of pectin. Return to a full, rolling boil and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Ladle jelly into jars, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top. Wipe the inside of the jar rim with a clean, wet paper towel to make sure no juice is left on the inner rim. In a saucepan, melt the block of wax. You'll do two stages of pouring wax on top of the jelly-- this preserves it so you don't get sick. (If there's one jar you're going to eat right away, you don't need to do the wax with this one). After jars are filled with jelly, pour wax on top, leaving about 1/4 inch. Let it set-- could take 30 minutes to an hour. When it's obviously set (it appears white), melt some more wax or re-melt what you might have in the saucepan, and pour this on top of the other wax layer. Let this set, too-- another 30 minutes or so. When it's also dry, squeeze the lids on tightly. And that's all there is to it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Baked Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

I first had enchiladas with salsa verde in Madrid in 1996. It was my first encounter with tomatillos, and since then I often order them at Mexican restaurants. I've tried my hand at elaborate recipes that involve making your own tomatillo salsa, but lately, as time seems in shorter and shorter supply, I've been looking for shortcuts. This is a good one.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup cilantro
2 minced garlic cloves
1 7-ounce can salsa verde (can be found at any Mexican grocery store, or even in supermarkets)
1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded (poach 15 minutes with an onion, peppercorns, and parsley)
1/3 cup cream cheese
1 cup chicken broth
Package of flour tortillas, small or large
1/4 cup monterey jack cheese, with jalapenos, or queso fresco
1/2 tsp. chili powder

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine onion, cilantro, garlic and salsa verde in food processor, process until liquid. Mix shredded chicken and cream cheese, stir in 1/2 cup of the green salsa mixture, reserving the remainder.

Place about 1/4 cup chicken mixture on a tortilla, roll up and place in greased 11x7 baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, pour salsa mixture over all, sprinkle with cheese and chili powder. Bake 18 minutes or until cheese is nice and bubbly.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ina Garten's macaroni & cheese with gruyere and tomatoes

This one, from the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Channel, is worth the splurge on gruyere, which makes it so much more elegant and rich than normal everyday macaroni and cheese. And the tomatoes add something special too. I divided the recipe in half, which would have easily served four...

1/2 pound macaroni
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups Gruyere, grated
1 cup extra-sharp Cheddar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
dash ground nutmeg
2 small fresh tomatoes
3/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cook macaroni acc. to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan just until hot. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1/2 Tblsp. salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a square baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, combine with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.