Sunday, January 31, 2010

Broccoli & pasta alfredo

I like my pasta alfredo to be about half pasta, half vegetable - all lightly covered in sauce.

1/2 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1 small handful spaghetti noodles
3/4 cup light cream (15%)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
3-4 cups frozen broccoli florets
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1-2 tsp olive oil

Start boiling water for pasta.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, broccoli, garlic. Cook until broccoli is super bright green. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Stir the cream and the lemon juice in a heavy pan to blend. Add the butter and cook over medium heat just until the butter melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Stir in Parmesan, lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Cook the pasta in boiling water until tender, then drain. Pour the alfredo sauce over the pasta and toss. Stir in the chicken and broccoli... et voilà!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fried rice with cilantro

Fried rice is a great comfort food, and the cilantro adds just enough pizazz to make it interesting.

1 Tbsp oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup frozen peas
1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
3 cups cooked, cooled basmati rice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup cooked chicken, cut into small pieces (optional)
fresh cilantro, rinsed and chopped

Heat A couple drops of oil over medium heat in a wok or large non-stick frying pan. Add eggs, stirring to break up. When almost cooked (not too done!) remove from pan and set aside.

Use paper towels to wipe the pan clean and add remaining oil. Heat to high. When the oil is very hot, add the leeks, peas and carrots and fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add in the rice and stir well to mix in the leeks throughout. Spread the rice all around the surface area and let the rice get really hot, untouched until you hear the bottoms of the grains sizzling. Use a spatula to toss the rice, again spreading the rice out over the surface. Drizzle the soy sauce on top and toss. Add the eggs and chicken, tossing to mix the rice evenly with all of the ingredients. Let everything heat back up again. Serve with soy sauce, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Roasted potatoes, carrots & onions

We love these vegetables in the winter! So good with roasted chicken, beef roast or pork roast.

4-5 small potatoes, washed and cut into 1" pieces
5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
2 large onions, cut into eighths
1 Tbsp drippings from roasted chicken, or bacon drippings, or oil
fresh rosemary (optional)

Put large ceramic or glass baking dish in oven and heat to 425°. When hot, melt chicken drippings in pan and quickly spread around with a spatula to coat edges and bottom.

Heat a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and carrots, cooking 10 minutes once boiling again.

Carefully remove baking dish from oven. Add potatoes, carrots, onions and rosemary. Stir once or twice to mix vegetables and coat with drippings. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until just beginning to soften. Stir occasionally. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pear tarte, trés rapide!

The other night we wanted this honeyed pear tarte tatin, but it was late and just the two of us so I cut a few corners. Still delish!

1 prepared pie crust (pâte feuilletée)
4-5 large pears (I use Williams)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp butter
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground ginger

Slice each pear into quarter and cut out the core. Don't bother peeling them.

Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon in the bottom of a ceramic or glass pie pan. Dot with pats of butter.

Place the pear slices in the dish, skin side down. Start in the center and work around in a circular shape.

Roll out pie crust and place gently over the pears. If there is any extra crust, just fold it back so that it just reaches the edge of the pan.

Bake in preheated oven at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until browned.

Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes. Run a knife around pastry to loosen it from pan, and flip tart out onto a serving platter.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chocolat chaud

French hot chocolate is the best. Thick and rich, but not overly sweet.

2 cups milk
5 ounces dark (at least 70%) chocolate, grated
2 teaspones brown sugar

Heat the milk slowly in a saucepan. Once the milk is warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and steaming. Continue stirring for 3-4 minutes, turning down the heat if it begin to boil. Serve hot in small cups, with brown sugar to stir in if desired. (I like mine straight!)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Scrambled eggs with sausage, leeks and 'shrooms

To be honest, I'm not much of a scrambled eggs girl. I need 'stuff' in them. This week, 'stuff' meant leeks, mushrooms and sausage! The leeks are a mild alternative to onions with a sweet flavor.

4 eggs, beaten
1 chipolata sausage, cooked and sliced
1 handful button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 leek, trimmed, rinsed and sliced
salt and pepper
small pat of butter

In a frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and leeks, cooking gently until softened. Add sausage, then eggs. Stir gently until just firm. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Butternut, apple & sausage casserole

Mmm... a great lunch or one-dish dinner using my favorite squash.

1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced thinly
2 baking apples, cored and sliced thinly
2-3 chipolata sausages, cooked and cut into rounds
about 1/3 cup grated Trappista, Gouda or other mild cheese
3 Tbsp bread crumbs
2-3 pinches dried rosemary
salt and pepper

Place the apples and butternut squash slices in a baking dish.

Sprinkle with sausage, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until soft (not mushy). Uncover and top with cheese, then bread crumbs. Broil until melted and browned.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Spinach and warm roasted beet salad

I found spinach at a great price the other day and also had beets and walnuts on hand. (What? You don't keep beets on hand?) A salad sounded good, but I was already so cold from the snow... so a little improv on the beets to cut the chill.

3 large handfuls spinach, rinsed
1-2 beets, roasted or boiled, then peeled and diced
goat cheese
lemon vinaigrette (not too much)
freshly ground pepper

Warm the beets slightly in the microwave - not hot, just a little warmer than room temperature. Toss the spinach with a little vinaigrette, then top with beets, walnuts, goat cheese and pepper.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Mom's yeast biscuits

My mom made these to be smothered in sausage gravy or butter with jam. Unbelievably good.

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon melted butter

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes.

Combine the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add yeast mixture and buttermilk; stir just until moist. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness; cut with a 3-inch juice glass. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush melted margarine over biscuit tops. Bake in preheated oven at 450° for 12 minutes or until golden.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Peanut butter oatmeal cookies

1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup oats

In a large bowl, cream together oil, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the oats until just combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Press twice with a fork.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes preheated oven at 350°F until just light brown. (Don't over-bake.) Serve with cold milk for dunking.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Marinara sauce with vegetables

1 box tomato purée / pomodoro (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup carrot purée (optional)
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 cup button mushrooms, quartered
4-6 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp rosemary
1 tsp olive oil
5-10 basil leaves, sliced thinly

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add zuchinni and cook 5 minutes or until soft and bright green around the edges. You may need to add a little water to keep it from sticking.

Add tomato purée, carrot purée, mushrooms, sugar, thyme and rosemary. Simmer on low at least 15 minutes.

Serve over hot pasta with basil and parmesan on top.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Jambon-beurre - the French answer to PBJ

The jambon-beurre (translated ham-butter) is the quintessential French sandwich. You know the American peanut butter and jelly? Think much more popular. According to 2009 statistics, for every hamburger consumed in France, eight jambon-beurres are eaten with contented smiles. (Okay, maybe I added that last bit.) Every day in France, 2.2 million of these forearm-length sandwiches are sold.

It's simple, elegant and delicious.

1/2 baguette (crusty French loaf)
sliced ham, good quality

Voilà. If you want to go fancy, add a sprinkling of fresh thyme, sea salt and thinly sliced cornichons. Personally, I say don't mess with a good thing.