Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pass the Cookbook: Chard & Green Garlic-Stuffed French Toast


This month the Pass the Cookbook crew - under the leadership of Kita, the culinary force behind Pass the Sushi - is cooking from Erin's pick. Erin blogs at The Spiffy Cookie and chose a cookbook I've actually reviewed for the publisher: Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth, the authors of the Love & Olive Oil blog.

Here's my review with three dishes, including Grapefruit-Barley Risotto, Grapefruit-Rosemary Risotto, and Earl Grey Panna Cotta. I was tickled that Erin picked three dishes for Pass the Cookbook that I didn't make earlier. Awesome. We could choose from: Breakfast Sausage Ravioli, Italian-Style Stuffed French Toast, and Lemon Poppy Seed Thumbprints. I opted for the savory French toast as a starting point. I subbed in feta cheese and used greens from our High Ground Organics CSA. This was a delicious dinner!

makes 6-8 slices
Ingredients
For the filling

  • splash of olive oil
  • 2 green garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 C chard, chiffonade
  • ½ C whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ C feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

For the French toast

  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into six or eight 1-1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 3 large eggs
  • pat of butter
  • splash of olive oil

For the topping

  • 2 C marinara sauce, warmed
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil
  • splash of olive oil
  • basil leaves for garnish

Directions



For the filling
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Let cool then coarsely chop.

In a small bowl, combine chopped spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest, basil, and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


For the French toast
Using a small serrated knife, cut a horizontal pocket in the side of each slice of bread. Gently fill with 1-2 tablespoons on filling and press closed.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and garlic powder.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat add one tablespoon of oil. Working with one slice at a time, dip into egg mixture, flipping to coat both sides. Place in pan with the hot oil.


Repeat with 2-3 more slices without overloading the pan. Cook for 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining slices, adding more oil as needed.


For serving
Transfer to plates, spoon warm marinara over top, and serve.


Here's what the rest of the crew made...


And this round, there's a giveaway, thanks to our hostess for the month and thanks to Quirk Books for sponsoring the giveaway. Thanks, Erin!...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Leek-Asparagus-Oyster Mushroom Risotto


Tonight I made a seasonal risotto topped with leeks, asparagus, and oyster mushrooms. I love the meatiness of the  mushrooms, the silkiness of the leeks, and the sweet grassiness of the asparagus. Apologies in advance for the lack of measurements. I really, really do not measure when I make this. Here's a link to Jamie Oliver's Basic Risotto. That will get you on the right path with the measurements.  The secret to risotto, as Maria told me, is stirring: usa il cucchiao...sempre. Use your spoon...always; keep stirring.

Maria was the cook for the Nuzzo family who was ordered to teach me all her recipes. Then she was fired and I was tasked with cooking for the family six days a week. Thankfully she didn't blame me for the impossible situation and we stayed close throughout the year that I was there. And sometimes when I cook, I hear her instructions in my head.

Make risotto with whatever you have on hand!  I used leeks from High Ground Organics in Watsonville along with some asparagus and mushrooms from Far West Fungi in Moss Landing.

For the risotto: saute your ingredients - greens, seafood, whatever - in a large flat-bottom pot in a splash of olive oil until cooked through. Stir in the arborio rice - one handful per person you're serving and un'altro per la pentola (an extra for the pot). Maria's voice again.

Add one ladle of simmering broth at a time, stirring, stirring, and stirring some more till the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until the rice is soft. Let stand for 5 minutes. Season with sea salt to taste. Stir in marscarpone cheese. Fold in some fresh chopped herbs to finish the dish; I used thyme. Che squisito!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ricotta-Gorgonzola Gnocchi

Sometimes you put flavors together that aren't a favorite with everyone at the table. I have to admit that these were not a hit with the boys. While they really like regular ricotta gnocchi, they objected to the gorgonzola part of these. Oh, well. I just wanted to try it.


Ingredients

  • 2 C whole-milk ricotta (I wished we had some of Riley's Homemade Ricotta!)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 C white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 T crumbled gorgonzola
  • dash of grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
Stir together ricotta, eggs, cheeses, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add flour, stirring with a silicone spatula to form a soft, wet dough.

Shape dough on a parchment-lined surface with lightly floured hands. Roll into 1" ropes and cut crosswise into 1" pieces with a lightly floured knife to form pillow dumplings.

Place gnocchi on parchment-lined surface until you're ready to cook them.

Cook gnocchi in a few batches in a pasta pot of boiling salted water with a splash of olive oil. Add a few to the pot at a time, stirring occasionally. When they float to the surface, they are finished. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain in colander.


Toss the gnocchi with the sauce of your choice. I did a green sauce for Earth Day with black garlic, kale, arugula, pea shoots, and lots of fresh herbs.

Dyn's Spicy Carrot Cake {Easter}


The Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf loves to bake...adores spices and loves mustard. So, this spicy carrot cake was the perfect Easter dessert for him to make. We started with this recipe and made some tweaks. This made one 9" layer and one 11" layer - I don't have matching sized pans.

Ingredients
For the Cake
  • 3-1/2 C grated organic carrots (some from our High Ground Organics CSA box)
  • 1-1/2 C ground almonds
  • 1-1/3 C white whole wheat flour
  • 2 C organic coconut sugar
  • 1-1/2 C softened butter
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 T prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 T spicy mustard
  • 3-1/2 T baking powder
  • 3 T hazelnuts, raw (I would have chopped them, but D just dumped them in there whole)
  • 2 T pistachios, raw
  • 2 T chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 T ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • dash of ground coriander
  • seeds from 3 cardamom pods, crushed
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 16 ounces of cream cheese
  • 16 T softened butter
  • 2 C organic powdered sugar
  • 1 T maple-agave syrup

Procedure
Preheat oven to 375°F. Beat the eggs with the pure vanilla extract and stir in the grated carrots, coconut sugar, butter, and mustards in a mixing bowl. Mix in the ground almonds, wheat flour, baking powder, and spices until just moistened. Add in the hazelnuts, pistachios, and dark chocolate. Spoon into a prepared baking dish (lined with parchment and lightly greased).

Cook in a 375°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Once cooked, let cool for 5-10 minutes before unmolding. Remove the cakes from the baking molds and let them cool completely before frosting them.

To make the frosting, blend all of the ingredient with a mixer until smooth. Cover the carrot cakes with frosting and let harden for 2 hours, uncovered, before serving.

Pan-Seared Padròns {Easter}


Padròns are another one of those deliciously seasonal treats. They have a subtle heat...usually! The smaller ones are less hot with a grassy sweetness. We love 'em! Whenever I get them, I cook them the same way. Why fix what is amazing, right?

But when I served them for Easter, they were ridiculously hot. Uncomfortably hot. So, it became a dare sorta thing. Great!

Ingredients

  • padròn peppers
  • olive oil
  • fleur de sel 


Procedure

Rinse and dry your peppers. Heat a splash of oil in a skillet. Add the peppers and sear until they begin to blister. Remove from heat and season with a sprinkling of salt.


Enjoy! Maybe just have a glass of milk handy...in case you get a hot batch like we did this weekend.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Cancer-Fighting Crucifers

One of my friends in the blogging world - Shaina of Take a Bite Out of Boca -  is hosting a recipe round-up in honor of her cousin Leah who is battling brain cancer and taking part in the Angels Among Us cancer event. Shaina's cousin beat cancer the first time around, but they have discovered that it has returned. So Shaina is running a Beat Cancer event on her blog. Everything will all be linked up there on Friday, April 25th. Check it out at Take a Bite Out of Boca!

If you have been following my blog for any amount of time,  you know that I love my veggies. And I decided to pull out a few recipes for her event.

While we know that no single food or food component protects you against cancer by itself, there is strong evidence showing that a diet filled with a variety of plant foods - vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans -  helps lower risk for many cancers. Click to read about the cancer-fighing cruciferous family: here - from cancer.gov's website.

Here are a few of our favorites. Love these cancer-fighting crucifers!!

Cabbage

Radishes

Turnips

Kale

I can't wait to see the other recipes that get posted for this event. Thanks, Shaina, for hosting and giving us all a chance to swap some healthier-for-us recipes.

Black Garlic-Coffee Lamb Lollipops with Shitake Mushrooms {Easter}


I always knew that I was going to have Jake grill lamb lollipops for our Easter table. It's a family favorite! We've made Garlic-Salt Lamb Lollipops and Rose-y Lamb Lollipops with a Morello Cherry Glaze for instance.

But at the last minute, and after I had already done all of my grocery shopping for Easter, I discovered black garlic. Or, more accurately, I finally had the gumption to pick some up. So, I headed out to the store and picked up three cloves. Thanks, girlichef, for the nudge. Black garlic doesn't taste like garlic at all. It's sweeter, molasses-like but with a little bit more tang. This was delicious!


Ingredients

  • 2 heads of black garlic, peeled and divided
  • 3 T ground coffee
  • 1 T coarse sea salt
  • 1 T smoke paprika
  • 1 T organic coconut sugar
  • 1 T freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 t ground coriander
  • olive oil
  • 1 C shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • fleur de sel

Procedure

Mash one head of black garlic with a mortar and pestle till a chunky paste forms. Blend the next 6 ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.

Rub the mixture on a Frenched rack of lamb and smear the black garlic paste, spreading it as thinly as possible. Let the meat sit for at least 10 minutes before grilling. Grill till desired doneness.

While cooking, make the sauce....


With the remaining cloves of black garlic, slice them thin and place them in a small sauce pan with a splash of olive oil. When the oil begins to sizzle, add in the shitake slices. Cook until the mushrooms are softened. Finish the sauce with a sprinkling of fleur de sel.

To serve, slice the rack into separate pieces - with the bone like a lollipop stick - and plate with the sauce.

In case you're wondering about the other rack of lamb in the photo above with the raw meat: I rubbed that with salt and crushed Thai dragon chilis...just in case this one didn't turn out very well. But now I wish I had done both with the black garlic. Another night!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Roasted Asparagus Soup {Easter}


Whenever it's Spring, I find myself cooking with lots of asparagus. So, when I was thinking about a chilled soup for our Easter lunch, I knew it would be something with asparagus. 

Ingredients

  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 4 Spring onions, outer layer peeled away (Thank you, High Ground Organics, for the delicious onions in our CSA this week!)
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 C organic chicken broth
  • 2 T ground almonds
  • lemon for garnish

Procedure
Preheat oven to 400F. Place the asparagus spears and Spring onions into baking pans. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn the veggies and return to the oven. Roast for another 10 more minutes, until asparagus is very tender and the onions are silky. 


While the veggies are roasting, blend 1/2 cup of the broth with the ground almonds until smooth. Leave it in the blender.

When the veggies are done, set aside the prettiest ones for use as garnish. Cut the remaining asparagus and onions into smaller pieces and put them in the blender. Pour in the remaining broth.


Cover the blender and blend on high until silky smooth. Add salt to taste, if needed; I didn't need any.

I served this chilled, but I'm sure it would be great served hot, too.


Ladle into serving bowls. Float a thin-sliced lemon on top. And garnish with an asparagus tip.
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