Feeling Your Oats | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 28 May 2015 16:27

052815fFor many of us, morning oatmeal is a passion, more for its great taste, than for its nutritional value. Cooked with raisins and served with brown sugar – and maybe a little cinnamon – well...it’s like a bowl of oatmeal cookies for breakfast.

Although third in popularity to wheat and corn, oats are the most nutritious of the cereal grasses, an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

And, if you don’t particularly like oatmeal, there are many ways of incorporating oats into all three meals each day.

CLASSIC MEATLOAF

1 to 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
3/4 cup quick or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup ketchup
1 egg (or equivalent egg substitute) lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in large bowl; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape meatloaf mixture into 10 x 6-inch loaf on rack of broiler pan.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until meatloaf is at medium doneness (160°F for beef, 170°F for turkey), not pink in center and juices show no pink color. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Cover and refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 2 days, or wrap airtight and freeze up to 3 months. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

OAT PILAF

1/2 cup each chopped red and yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-3/4 cups oatmeal
2 egg whites
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook peppers, mushrooms, green onions and garlic in oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. In large bowl, mix oats and egg whites until oats are evenly coated. Add oats to vegetable mixture in skillet.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until oats are dry and separated, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add broth, basil, salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

GLUTEN-FREE OATMEAL COOKIES

1/4 cup butter
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups rolled oats (oatmeal)
3/4 cups brown sugar
6 ounces chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar and butter and beat until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla and baking soda and mix well. Add peanut butter and mix. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and nuts.

Place teaspoonsful of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly brown around edges. Yields about 48 cookies.

OATMEAL BREAD

6 cups (about) flour
2-1/2 cups quick oatmeal or rolled oats (uncooked)
1/4 cup sugar
2 (1/4-ounce) packages (about 4-1/2 teaspoons) quick-rising yeast
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 cups water
1-1/4 cups low-fat milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) margarine or butter

In large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, oats, sugar, yeast and salt; mix well. In small saucepan, heat water, milk and margarine until very warm (120°F to 130°F). Add to flour mixture. Blend on low speed of electric mixer until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed; beat 3 minutes. By hand, gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Shape dough into ball; place in greased bowl, turning once. Cover; let rise in warm place 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Punch down dough. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough in half; shape to form loaves. Place in two greased 8 x 4 or 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Cover; let rise in warm place 15 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.

Heat oven to 375°F. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until dark golden brown. Remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely before slicing. If desired, (and before baking), brush tops of loaves lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with additional oats. Makes 2 loaves.

OATMEAL CAKE

1/2 cup soft butter or margarine
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons flour
1-1/4 cup rye flour
1 cup rolled oats (oatmeal)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/4 cup milk
Coconut Frosting

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, mix. Combine dry ingredients. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk to creamed mixture (batter will be thin). Pour into greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Coconut Frosting

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine (softened)
4-1/2 teaspoons light cream (or whole milk)
1 cup shredded coconut

Mix ingredients until well blended. Spread on warm cake. Broil until frosting is golden brown (approximately 5 minutes).

Makes enough to cover a 9x13-inch pan.

CRANBERRY-GINGER OAT SCONES

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter or margarine, chilled, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Heat oven to 400°F.

In large bowl, combine flour, oats, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda and salt; mix well.

Work butter into dry ingredients with fork or fingertips until mixture resembles small peas. Stir in cranberries. In small bowl, combine yogurt and egg; blend well. Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir with fork until soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead gently 8 to 10 times. Transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet. Pat into 8-inch diameter circle; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Cut into 8 wedges; separate wedges slightly.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until light golden brown. Separate wedges; transfer to cooling rack.

Serve warm. Makes 8 scones.

Chef’s Note: For biscuits and scones that are light, tender and flaky, cut chilled butter or margarine into dry ingredients until particles are the size of coarse crumbs. After adding liquids, handle dough as gently and as little as possible.

CAPTION: A delicious, more nutritious meatloaf made with rolled oats.


 
Prime Time for Artichokes | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 21 May 2015 13:41

052115fIf you’re lucky enough to have artichokes in your backyard garden (and they are easy to grow here), you’ve probably been enjoying them for the past couple of weeks. But if not, you’ll find plenty of them on local produce shelves or at the Farmers’ Market.

Real fans might want to drive down to the 56th Annual Artichoke Festival in Castroville over the May 30-31 weekend (visit artichokefestival.org). Most of the nation’s supply come from that part of California.

To cook artichokes, wash them under cold running water. Peel the stems at the base and remove the small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in a deep saucepan large enough to hold them snugly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and two to three inches boiling water. (Add lemon juice, herbs, garlic powder or onion powder, if desired.)

Cover and boil gently 35 to 45 minutes or until base can be pierced easily with fork. (Add a little more boiling water, if needed.) Turn artichokes upside down to drain. Serve hot or cover and refrigerate to chill.

There are, of course, many way of serving artichokes—stuffing them or incorporating them into other dishes. But that often takes more fussing than true artichoke lovers have the patience for. The easiest way to serve them is with a favorite dipping sauce.

For the novice, here’s how to eat them. Pull off the outer petals one at a time, dip, and draw the end through your front teeth, scraping off the edible pulp from the inside of the leaf. When you reach the purple cone of light-colored leaves,  scrape away the fuzzy portion with a spoon to reveal the artichoke heart which extends down into the stem. Cut into bite-sized pieces, dip and enjoy.

HERBED MAYONNAISE

1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon each chopped parsley and chives (or green onions, green part only)
1/4 teaspoon tarragon

Mix all ingredients well and serve with cooked artichokes.

HONEY-MUSTARD DIPPING SAUCE

1/4 cup prepared mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Makes about 3/4 cup.

HERBED BUTTER SAUCE

1-1/2 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon oregano, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 tablespoon minced parsley

In small saucepan, heat wine and shallots over medium heat until mixture is reduced to about 3/4 cup. Add lemon juice and oregano. Cool slightly, return pan to low heat. Slowly add butter in small amounts, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Garnish with parsley and serve with hot or cold artichokes. Makes 4 servings.

LOW-FAT RANCH DIP

1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup lowfat Ranch salad dressing

Combine ingredients and mix well. Makes 1/2 cup.

ROASTED ARTICHOKES

4 large artichokes
1-1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Using a serrated knife, cut off the top third of each artichoke. Cut off the thorns from the remaining leaves with scissors. Cut off all but 1/2 inch of the stem.

Quarter each artichoke and place in a large pot with 1 tablespoon salt, the peppercorns, mustard seed, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, thyme, garlic, 2 tablespoons oil and the juice of the lemon. Add the lemon half, then cover with water.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until you can easily remove an inner leaf, about 25 minutes. (Err on the undercooked side, as the artichokes will be cooked further.) Drain the artichokes on several thicknesses of paper towels and let cool.

Preheat over to 375°F. Using a spoon, scoop out the fibrous choke and prickly inner leaves from each artichoke quarter.

Place quarters in bowl and toss gently with remaining oil, 1/2 tablespoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Spread the quarters heart-side up on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, until golden brown with crisp edges. Serves 4.

 

 
Awesome Asparagus | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 14 May 2015 15:14

051415fCalifornia asparagus, the aristocrat of spring vegetables, is at its peak right now. The fact that the harvest is right next door is a big plus.

The closer, the better, since the natural sugar in asparagus can disappear very quickly. So, cook asparagus as soon as possible to ensure peak flavor.

If you must store it, trim the bottom of the spears and stand the asparagus, covered in a plastic bag, in an inch of water in the refridgerator to keep for a few days.

Asparagus can be as thin as a pencil or thicker than your thumb. Everyone seems to  have a preference, although the spears come from the same plants and they all taste pretty much alike.

Asparagus can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, grilled, roasted or incorporated into casseroles and salads. The key is just to “cook it briefly.”

Devotees like its unadorned flavor, but it’s nice to have a few recipes that add a note or two.

BRAISED ASPARAGUS

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons butter

Heat oil in a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan over high heat until lightly smoking. Add asparagus in as close to a single layer as possible, season with salt and pepper, and cook without moving until lightly browned, about 1-1/2 minutes. Shake pan and cook until browned again, 1-1/2 minutes longer. Add stock and butter to pan and immediately cover.

Continue to cook until asparagus is completely tender and stock and butter have emulsified and reduced to a shiny glaze, 7 to 10 minutes. If stock completely evaporates and butter starts to burn before asparagus is cooked through, top up with a few tablespoons of water. Serve immediately. Yields 4 servings.

SPRING ASPARAGUS AU GRATIN

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced onions
2 cups bias-sliced asparagus pieces about 1-inch long
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups cooked linguini
1 ripe tomato, chopped
2/3 cup shredded Swiss or Mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon grated
Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup vegetable broth, tomato juice or water

Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, asparagus, fennel and thyme; saute 2 minutes.

Place pasta in 2-1/2-quart ovenproof casserole. Top with sauteed vegetables, chopped tomatoes and cheeses. Pour broth, over all and bake uncovered in 350°F oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden and vegetables are heated through. Serves 4.

CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP

1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups chicken stock
1 pint sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons Hungarian hot paprika, for garnish

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add asparagus and sauté another 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until asparagus is very tender.

Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. Release one corner of the lid to prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the blender, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Return to saucepan, stir in sour cream and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to serving bowls. Dust with paprika and serve. Yields 4 servings.

ASPARAGUS QUICHE

1 tablespoon butter
1 leek (white and light green parts only), halved, thinly sliced, then well washed
Salt and freshly, ground pepper
1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 large eggs
1-1/4 cups half-and-half
Ground nutmeg
Favorite pie crust, fitted into a 9-inch pie plate, well chilled
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in lowest position. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add leek and asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Place pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese; top with asparagus mixture. Pour egg mixture on top.

Bake until center of quiche is just set, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Yields 6 servings.

 

 
For Mom, a Few of Her Favorite Things | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 May 2015 11:24

050715f2Sunday is Mother’s Day. Like you could forget, with all the reminders being trumpeted at you on TV, on the store shelves and, yes, right here in this newspaper.

So, after you’ve gotten the card, the flowers, the chocolates, what can you do that will make Mom feel really special? A lot of people take their Moms out for brunch on Mother’s Day. But it can be fun to stay home, too, especially if you use your cooking skills to make something special.

FRENCH CROISSANT TOAST

French Toast:
4 croissants, split in half lengthwise
4 eggs
1 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
Cinnamon Sugar:
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Dip croissants into the mixture, coating completely.

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add egg-coated croissants and sauté until golden brown, turning once. Keep toast warm (for up to 30 minutes) by placing it on a cooking sheet in preheated 300°F oven.

To serve, drizzle with more melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Serves 4.

FRESH APPLE MUFFINS

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped peeled apple
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter and brown sugar in mixer bowl until light. Beat in eggs until smooth.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in another bowl and stir well. Add to creamed mixture with milk, apple raisins and walnuts. Gently beat with spoon until all ingredients are just mixed.

Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin tins, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake at 425°F about 15 minutes, or until wood pick comes out clean when inserted in center. Remove from oven and serve warm. Makes about 12 to 14 medium muffins.

STRAWBERRIES WITH SOUR CREAM

4 cups strawberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar

In a small bowl, mix sour cream with lemon juice and lemon peel. Serve sour cream mixture and brown sugar as dips one and two alongside strawberries. Serves about 8.

FLUFFY BAKED OMELET

3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated Cheddar cheese

Beat eggs yolks until thick. Set aside. Beat egg whites until frothy in large mixing bowl. Add water and continue beating until soft peaks form.

Heat butter in 9-1/2 inch oven-proof skillet until bubbly, but not brown. Tip pan to coat sides.

Fold egg yolks into whites. Pour egg mixture into pan and cook, without stirring, over low heat, until egg mixture is puffed, set and golden brown on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place pan in 325°F oven and bake until knife inserted near center comes out clean, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and loosen sides of omelet with metal spatula. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with cheese.

Make score across omelet slightly off center. Fold small side over larger.

Makes 1 to 2 servings.

TROPICAL ISLAND SMOOTHIE

1 medium-size banana
1 cup cubed and crushed pineapple with juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
6 to 8 ice cubes

Combine all the ingredients in the blender container. Blend on high speed for about thirty seconds. Stop the blender and use a table knife or a thin rubber spatula to stir and move any remaining solid ingredients around the blade. Cover and process on high speed for about 30 more seconds or until the ice is completely crushed and the drink is smooth and creamy.



 
Cinco de Mayo: Celebrating a 163-year-old Mexican Victory | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 30 April 2015 12:22

043015fTuesday is Cinco de Mayo, an important national holiday in Mexico, observing the victory of that country’s greatly outnumbered and ill-equipped forces against the invading French forces of Napolean III in the town of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Although Cinco de Mayo doesn’t have a “typical” menu as do most U.S. holidays, there are some basic foods in Mexico’s rich culinary history which evolved centuries ago when peasant farmers began cultivating chiles, corn, beans, rice and tomatoes. Today, these staples have become traditional favorites for most of us who live north of the border, too.

TACOS RANCHEROS

1/2 pound sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning mix
8 taco shells
1/2 head lettuce, shredded
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1 cup thick, chunky salsa

In a large skillet, brown sausage and ground beef until no longer pink. Add taco seasoning mix according to package directions. Fill taco shells evenly with meat mixture and garnish with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream and salsa. Serves 4.

CHUNKY SALSA

2 cups diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onions
1 tablespoon oil
1 to 2 tablespoons jalapeños, finely diced
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon Mexican dried leaf oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Dice tomatoes and onions into 1/4-inch pieces and combine with jalapeños, oil, vinegar, lime juice, oregano, salt and cilantro in large glass mixing bowl.

Taste and add additional salt if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Roasting Peppers

Roasted chiles and peppers are frequently called for in Mexican cooking. Simply hold the chiles  over an open flame with kitchen tongs, turning them frequently so the skins blister evenly. Then wrap them in a cloth and let them steam for 3 to 4 minutes before removing the skin under cold, running water. Remove seeds and membranes. Or, to save time, use canned chiles.

REFRIED BEANS

1 pound dried pinto beans
6 cups water
1-1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dried ground chili peppers
1/4 cup lard or other fat

Select a large enough pot to hold at least 3 to 4 times the volume of beans comfortably. Bring the water to a rolling boil while you are picking over the beans, removing pebbles and spoiled beans.

Wash the beans and add to the kettle. Boil for only two minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let it rest for one hour. Drain and discard the water.

Add 6 cups of fresh water, half the onions and garlic, and bring to a boil. Cover loosely and cook over low heat for about 2 hours.

Add salt, chili peppers and 1 tablespoon fat. Cook 30 minutes, turning frequently, until beans are very tender. If any liquid remains, drain. Mash beans, heat remaining fat in a large skillet; add remaining onions and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in beans and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pint sour cream
1-3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 (12-ounce) jar taco sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F

Cook chicken in a medium, non-stick skillet over medium heat  until no longer pink and juices run clear. Drain excess fat.

Cube the chicken and return it to the skillet. Add the onion, sour cream, 1 cup of the Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano and ground black pepper. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in salt, tomato sauce, water, chili powder, green pepper and garlic.

Roll even amounts of the mixture in the tortillas. Arrange in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Cover with taco sauce and the remaining 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Yields 8 servings.

CARNE CON PAPPAS

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 medium potatoes, diced into 1-inch squares
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (1-pound) thinly sliced beef sirloin tip steak
1-1/2 cups mild salsa

Heat olive oil in large skillet.

Add diced potatoes and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes begin to soften. Add onions, salt, pepper, sliced meat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salsa and stir. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Serve directly from pan or from a large bowl. Yields 4 servings.

 

 
Stalk Up on Spring Rhubarb | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 23 April 2015 15:12

042315fFellow rhubarb lovers, it’s our season again. Those bright red stalks have started showing up at Farmers’ Markets and grocery produce bins, and that means it’s time for pie!

For those who’ve never tasted rhubarb — and there are a lot of you out there — you’ve been missing one of the real treats of spring.

While technically a vegetable, rhubarb is mainly eaten as a fruit in desserts, usually pie.

The plant makes a beautiful addition to any garden with its huge green, crinkly leaves, although it does take up a lot of room. One caution about those leaves—they’re toxic. That’s why they’re removed before the stalks show up in the market.

Buy rhubarb that is firm, crisp and well-colored (pink or red), avoiding any stalks that are limp or pithy. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it unwashed as soon as you bring it home.

Use it as soon as possible, washing the stalks at that time and removing any leaf remnants. Young stalks don’t need to be peeled.

A pound of rhubarb yields about three cups sliced. The general guideline for sweetening is 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sugar per pound, but it is a matter of variety and personal preference.

ELEGANT RHUBARB CUSTARD PIE

Filling:
1-1/2 pounds rhubarb (about 4 cups), cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 9-inch single-crust pastry
Topping:
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar

For the filling, combine rhubarb slices with sugar, flour, lemon juice and salt in a bowl. Toss to mix and turn into pie shell. Bake in hot oven at 400°F for 20 minutes.

For the topping, beat eggs slightly in a bowl. Stir in cream, butter and nutmeg to blend. Pour over rhubarb in pie shell and bake another 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar and bake 10 more minutes or until the top is browned.

Cool before cutting. Yields 6 servings.

RHUBARB CHIFFON PIE

Pastry for 9-inch double-crust pie
3 large stalks of rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Put rhubarb chunks in pie shell. Mix sugar, flour and butter, add eggs and orange rind and mix. Pour over rhubarb chunks, top with crust, sealing edges, and bake in preheated 400°F oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until done.

RHUBARB & STRAWBERRY PIE

1 cup sugar
3 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup strawberries, stemmed and sliced
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of grated orange peel
Unbaked pastry for two-crust 9-inch pie

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mix rhubarb and strawberries with the sugar, tapioca, salt, and orange rind. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Turn into a pastry lined pan. Top with the pastry, trim the edge, and crimp the top and bottom edges together. Cut slits in the top for the steam to escape.

Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F, and bake an additional 30-40 minutes longer. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or cold. If you do cool to room temperature, the juices will have more time to thicken.

RHUBARB CHEESECAKE

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
3 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl, toss the rhubarb with 1/2 cup of sugar and the flour. Pour into the pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove, and allow to cool. Lower oven temperature to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sugar until smooth. Stir in the eggs one at a time until each is blended. Pour this mixture over the rhubarb in the crust.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set. Remove from the oven, and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and vanilla. Spread over the top of the pie while it is hot. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled before serving. Serves 8.

RHUBARB SAUCE

In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Add 2-1/4 cups sliced rhubarb; cook and stir for 5-10 minutes or until rhubarb is tender and mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. Yields 1-1/4 cups. Serve warm over ice cream.

 

 
RICE – The Long and Short of It | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 16 April 2015 14:06

041615fRice has been around for a long time. It dates back to at least 7000 B.C., feeding billions of people and becoming the staple for half the world’s population.

Technically a grass, rice is available in three basic styles: long-, medium- or short-grained.

Short-grain rice is high in starch and stickier than other rices and is often used in Asian cooking. Arborio, a prized short-grain rice, is a mainstay in risotto.

Medium-grain rice is slightly sticky. It cooks up tender and plump with a mild flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Long-grain white rice is the most common variety used in America. It has a neutral taste and firm texture, and remains separate and fluffy when cooked. Such long-grain rices as jasmine and basmati are aromatic and are good paired with stir-fry and other Asian and Indian dishes, or used in pilafs.

BASIC RISOTTO

Risotto is a popular Northern Italian method of cooking short-grained arborio rice in a broth to a creamy consistency.

1/4 cup onions, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups arborio rice
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water

Sauté onions in olive oil until they are soft. Add the rice, stirring for 2 minutes to coat the rice. Add 1/4 cup of the stock and simmer, stirring. When most of the stock has been absorbed, add 3/4 cup water. Stir until the water is almost gone. Add remaining stock and simmer until it is absorbed. Add water and repeat. Taste. If rice is still hard, add more water or stock and continue to simmer and stir until done. Serves 4.

Enrichments: Add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese when cooked. Add white wine in place of water.

MUSHROOM RICE

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup long-grained rice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken stock

Cook mushrooms in butter in large, heavy saucepan until tender and any liquid is absorbed. Add rice, salt and chicken stock and stir. Bring to boil, cover lightly and cook over very low heat until rice is tender and stock is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

CHINESE RICE WITH VEGETABLES

1 cup uncooked white rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups any combination of:
• frozen mixed vegetables
• julienned carrots
• chopped green pepper
• broccoli flowerets
Salt and black pepper

Combine rice, water, soy sauce and oil in 2 to 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir once or twice. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Add vegetables. Cover; simmer 5 minutes or until rice and vegetables are tender and liquid is absorbed. Season to taste. Serves 6.

SPANISH RICE

1 medium onion, chopped
1 (28-oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 green pepper, finely chopped
6 slices bacon
1 cup water
3/4 cup long grain rice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
5 drops hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp, then drain on paper towels. Crumble the bacon and set it  aside. Save 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings and add the  onion and green pepper. Cook until tender but still crispy.

Stir in the can of tomatoes with juice, cold water, long grain rice, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, chili powder, pepper and hot sauce.

Reduce heat to low, cover with a tight fitting lid, simmer 30 minutes until rice is done. Top with bacon. Serves 4.

DIRTY RICE

1/2 pound bacon
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground chicken livers
1 large onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 cups cooked rice, at room temperature
4 green onions & tops, minced
1/4 cup parsley, minced

In a heavy Dutch oven, saute bacon, pork and livers until very brown. Let the meat stick to the skillet a bit before stirring. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook until they are wilted.

Add chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Add rice and toss the mixture until rice is hot. Stir in green onions and parsley. Adjust seasonings.  Serves 8 to 10.

 

 
Walnuts – Even Healthier Than We Thought | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 09 April 2015 13:21

040915fWhile all nuts and seeds are significant contributors to good health, walnuts appear to be the flagship nuts in the SuperFood category, ranking above some of the more popular nuts like almonds, peanuts, pecans and pistachios.

Rich in high-quality protein, they have double the amount of antioxidants compared to other nuts.

One of the reasons many people shun them is because they are very high in calories. But researchers say that’s because of their high content of “good fats,” in particular those that are mono saturated and polyunsaturated.

While healthiest when eaten raw, walnuts – like other nuts – are tastier when they are toasted.

To toast, heat oven to 350°F. Arrange walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, checking frequently. On the stovetop, cook walnuts in a skillet at medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

SPINACH, WALNUT & APPLE SALAD

2 Golden Delicious apples, cored, cut into large dice 4tablespoons lemon juice
8 cups baby spinach leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup crumbled goat cheese 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Toss apples with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice.

Place spinach in a large bowl; remove long stems and bruised leaves. Whisk together remaining lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and ground pepper to taste.

Toss spinach with apples and dressing. Divide between four bowls. Top with cheese and walnuts. Serves 4.

ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH WALNUTS

1/2 red bell pepper, small, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 orange bell pepper, small, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 red onion, medium, cut into 1-inch cubes, separated
4 ounces baby Portabella mushrooms, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar snap peas
1 zucchini, small, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 yellow summer squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh basil, snipped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place bell peppers, onion and mushrooms in a large bowl and toss with olive oil and salt. Place in a single layer on a large baking sheet, making sure not to crowd vegetables. Cook for 10 minutes. Add snap peas, zucchini, yellow squash and garlic and stir lightly. Top with walnuts and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more or until all vegetables are crisp-tender and walnuts are toasted. Drizzle with balsamic and toss well. Sprinkle with basil. Serves 5.

MUESLI WITH APPLES & WALNUT CRUMBLE

4 cups rolled oats
2 cups  chopped walnuts
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup plump raisins
1 crisp apple, grated
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
Honey
Walnut Crumble
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon raw sugar
Splash of water

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Toss together the oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, olive oil, salt, and cinnamon and spread in a thin layer on a baking sheet/tray. Toast until fragrant and slightly golden; 5 minutes. Cool.

While the muesli bakes, make the walnut crumble. Toss together walnuts, sugar and a splash of water in a small pan over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes and glazes the walnuts lightly. Set aside to cool and roughly chop.

Fill four bowls with 1/2 cup muesli each. Garnish with raisins, grated apple, and top with yogurt or kefir. Sprinkle each bowl with walnut crumble. Stir together and eat, with a touch of honey if desired. Serves 4.

(The remaining muesli and crumble can be stored in an airtight container.)

SPICED WALNUTS

1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups walnut halves
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large nonstick skillet, heat honey, oil, and 1 tablespoon water over medium heat. Add walnuts; toss to coat.

Sprinkle the sugar, salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne over the nuts. Cook, tossing and stirring until the nuts are well coated and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool completely.

CANDIED WALNUTS

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3/4 cups walnut halves

Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook, stirring often, to 236°F on candy thermometer or until a little of the mixture dropped into cold water forms a soft ball. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and nuts. Stir until sugary. Turn at once onto waxed paper and separate nuts.

Makes 1/4 pound of Candied Walnuts.

WALNUT PESTO

3 packed cups fresh basil leaves
3 large cloves garlic
1⁄3 cup lightly toasted walnuts
1⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1⁄3 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: additional extra virgin olive oil (for storage)

Place the basil leaves and garlic in a food processor or blender and mix well. Add the walnuts and continue to blend until the nuts are finely ground.

Keep the machine running as you drizzle in the olive oil. When you have a smooth paste, transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you are not going to use the pesto right away, place in a container that has a tight-fitting lid. Smooth out the top surface of the pesto and pour on enough olive oil to cover it completely. This creates an airproof seal that helps preserve it well.

Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator.

 

 
Important Religious Holidays Coming Up This Weekend | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 02 April 2015 12:12

040215fFor Jews and Christians, the weekend ahead will be filled with some of the most important religious holidays of the year.

The eight-day Passover holiday begins at sundown on Friday, celebrating the redemption of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

The basic rules for Passover are universal. Nothing that includes any leavening may be served during the eight days, including grains, cereals, bean and legumes. That’s because the faithful identify with the Israelites who fled Egypt in such haste they had no time to let their bread rise.

Christians will observe Good Friday at the end of the week and Easter on Sunday, commemorating the Resurrection of Christ.

Although Easter has no particular ceremonial foods, baked ham has become the traditional fare for Sunday’s dinner.

Easter

Since most hams we buy today are fully cooked, creating a meal around one doesn’t require all the preparation that the annual Thanksgiving turkey does. To be served warm, a fully-cooked ham need only be reheated in a 325°F-oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 140°F.

But there are many ways to “customize” the reheating process with glazes and sauces. Brush glaze on during the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking time.

LEMON-DIJON GLAZED HAM & PINEAPPLE

1 cup Dijon mustard
2/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 (6 to 8-pound) spiral-cut fully cooked ham
1 fresh pineapple, cored and sliced into 1/2-inch rings
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, optional

Blend mustard, lemon juice and brown sugar in small bowl for glaze. Reserve 1/2 cup.

Place ham flat side down in large non-aluminum roasting pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 325°F for 1 hour. Remove from oven; remove foil and turn ham onto its side.

Place pineapple slices in pan around ham. Generously brush ham and pineapple with glaze. Return to oven and bake 45 minutes longer or until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of ham reads 140°F, turning pineapple slices and brushing ham and pineapple with additional glaze.

Stir chives into remaining glaze if desired. Serve ham and pineapple with glaze. Serves 12 to 18.

Passover

Matzo is one of the best-known Passover foods. Cakes, cookies and dumpling for Passover are made from either potato starch or matzo meal made from ground matzos or a more finely ground version called cake meal.

The Seder dinner, with its traditional dishes, is held on the first night of Passover and is the principal ceremony of the festival.

POTATO KUGEL GRATIN

Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
6 large peeled russet potatoes
5 shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup unsalted matzo meal
Sea salt for serving

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in upper third.

Combine 4 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

Oil a 2-1/2 quart baking dish and sprinkle bottom with some salt-and-pepper mixture.

Cut potatoes into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices vertically in baking dish. Wedge in shallots and sprinkle thyme throughout. Brush with oil and season between potato slices with remaining salt-and-pepper mixture. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet.

Whisk together eggs, broth, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add matzo meal and stir to combine. Pour mixture evenly over potatoes, tapping baking sheet on the counter to make sure mixture settles to bottom of baking dish.

Cover with parchment, then with foil, and transfer to oven. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and parchment, rotate baking sheet, and continue baking until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 40 minutes more. Increase heat to broil and broil until golden brown, about 5 minutes. (Watch carefully to prevent overbrowning.)

Garnish with thyme and sea salt. Let rest at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Yields 10 servings.

 

 
State of the Onion | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 26 March 2015 13:55

032615fNothing is simple anymore, not even buying an onion. This spring, depending on the exact time and place you’re shopping, you may have to consult at atlas before picking one.

Will it be from Maui, Hawaii or Vidalia, Georgia? Walla Walla, Washington or Southeast Texas?

In fact – except for the Walla Walla – they are all more or less hybrids of the same onion. Although there certainly are differences, in many cases they are interchangeable in recipes with little discernible variation in taste.

The most common cooking onion is the yellow globe, the workhorse of cookery and good in any heated dish or any other recipe in which subtlety is not an issue. It is usually the lowest-priced and, because it is a storage onion, available year-round.

ONION CASSEROLE

6 cups water
Salt
1/2 cup rice
1/2 stick) butter, plus extra
4 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2/3 cup milk

Bring water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil over high heat. Slowly stir in rice. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Drain rice and put in bowl.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Add to rice. Add cheese, milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste), and stir until well combined. Spread rice mixture in 13x9-inch baking dish. Bake at 325°F until lightly golden, about 1 hour. Yields 6 servings.

BEER-BATTERED ONION RINGS

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Cayenne pepper
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup beer
1 large egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 cups Vegetable oil, for frying
2 large white onions, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, separated into rings

Combine flour, salt, and a pinch of cayenne in a medium bowl. Whisk in buttermilk, beer, egg, and finely-grated lemon zest, and let stand for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°F. Place a baking sheet on middle rack of oven. Heat oil to 380°F in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.

Dip a few slices of onion in batter, turning to coat. Gently drop slices into oil. Cook, turning once with a wire-mesh skimmer, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Transfer rings to paper towels, season with salt immediately, then transfer onions to the baking sheet to keep warm. Repeat with remaining onions. (Adjust heat as necessary to keep oil at a steady temperature.) Yields 6 servings.

ROASTED ONIONS

4 medium unpeeled yellow onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position; heat to 425°F.

Cut onions in half; toss with oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place, cut-side down, on a lipped cookie sheet.

Roast until tender and cut surfaces are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings; drizzle sparingly with balsamic vinegar. Serves 4.

CLASSIC ONION PIE

5 cups onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup ham, diced
1 cup low fat Swiss cheese, grated
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Saute onions in olive oil until tender and translucent. Add ham and grated cheese. Combine sugar and flour with seasonings, and add to slightly beaten eggs. Add milk to egg mixture.

Put sauteed onion, ham, and cheese in a pie shell; pour milk and egg mixture over onions. Bake in pre-heated oven at 425°F for 35 minutes or until custard is set and golden brown. Serve warm. Yields 6 to 8 servings.

FRENCH ONION SOUP

6 large red or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups of beef stock
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme
Salt and pepper
8 slices of toasted French bread
1-1/2 cups of grated Swiss, Gruyere and a little grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil on medium high heat until well browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes (or longer). Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the carmelization.

Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock, white wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.

To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350°F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

GLAZED ONION FRITTATA

1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large onions, peeled, quartered, then sliced crosswise about 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
6 eggs, whisked with 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
3 tablespoons butter

Warm the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet, add onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until gold, about 30 minutes.

Add half the vinegar, raise the heat and reduce while stirring. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt, a few twists of pepper and ground cloves.

Preheat the broiler.

Add several pinches of salt to the eggs and beat with water. Stir in onions and parsley. Melt half the butter in 10-inch skillet. When it’s sizzling, add the eggs. Cover and cook over low heat until eggs are set, 8 to 10 minutes. Slide the pan under the broiler until eggs are golden. Tip frittata onto serving dish and return the pan to the stove. Add remaining butter and, when it begins to foam, add remaining vinegar. Slide pan back and forth to emulsify the two, then pour it over the eggs. Add a few pinches of choppe parsley and serve. Serves 4.

 

 
Spring for Some Lamb | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 19 March 2015 14:51

031915fAlthough high-quality California lamb is available year-round, sales more than double this time of year as families gather for Easter and Passover feasts.

A culinary bridge across cultures, lamb is a common staple of spring cooking that dates back to ancient times and is rooted in a number of religious traditions.

It is the most popular meat consumed worldwide, but in this country it still ranks below beef, pork and poultry.

Lamb is simple to cook. One way to prepare leg of lamb is by sprinkling the outside with granulated garlic, black pepper, leaf thyme and a little rosemary; another way is with a Dijon mustard sauce. The lamb is baked at about 350°F for 30 minutes to the pound.

Probably the worst thing people do to lamb is overcook it or to smother it in mint jelly.

Lamb should not be cooked past an internal temperature of 150°F. Mint jelly overpowers the taste of the meat. Instead, try serving lamb with  Mint Sauce that’s much lighter than the jelly.

Health-wise, lamb contains very  little marbling, so the fat can easily be trimmed. It has about the same number of calories as beef and it is high in B vitamins, niacin, zinc and iron.

MARINATED LEG OF LAMB

2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup wine vinegar
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, slivered
1 teaspoon ginger spice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (4- to 5-pound) leg of lamb

In bowl, combine oil, vinegar, onion, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper and mix well. Pour over lamb in shallow dish and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight, turning lamb occasionally. Drain lamb, reserving marinade, and place meat on rack in shallow roasting pan.

Roast at 325°F for about 2-1/2 hours or until done as desired, basting frequently with marinade. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Add more sugar or vinegar as needed.

LAMB SHANKS WITH LENTILS

1 pound dried lentils, rinsed
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 sprigs thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 bottle red win
4 lamb shanks
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in roasting pan or casserole and stir; bring to a boil on top of stove, then nestle lamb shanks among lentils, cover pan and put in oven. Lower heat to 350°F and let cook, undisturbed, for about an hour.

Uncover and stir lentils gently; season with salt and pepper. Recover and cook about an hour more, until lentils are very tender and meat begins to pull away from bone. Don’t worry about overcooking the lentils. When lamb is tender, uncover pan, raise heat to 400°F and cook for another 15 minutes, just to brown top of shanks a bit. Makes 4 servings.

LAMB CHOPS WITH ROSEMARY

4 (1-1/2 inch thick) lamb chops
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons minced parsley
1/4 cup red wine
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Brown chops in hot oil in large skillet. Turn heat to low and cook to desired doneness, about 7 minutes on each side for medium. Remove to warm platter.

Add rosemary, parsley and wine to skillet, heat to boiling and reduce slightly. Add butter and stir in. Return lamb to pan and coat with sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at once. Makes 4 servings.

LAMB STEW WITH DILL

2 pounds boneless lamb from shoulder or breast, cut into roughly 1-1/2 inch chunks
8 shallot, peeled
12 very small new potatoes, washed
Salt and pepper
2 carrots, diced
1 cup frozen green peas
8 scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch sections
1/2 cup snipped dill leaves (or more, to taste)
Lemon wedges

Put lamb in a broad skillet over high heat; let sear, undisturbed, about 2 minutes, or until underside is nicely browned. Stir and add shallots and potatoes. Cook a couple of minutes longer, and add salt and pepper and a cup of water. Stir, scraping bottom if necessary to loosen any meat bits that are sticking.

Turn heat to low, cover and simmer about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Uncover and add carrots; stir once, re-cover and let simmer about 15 minutes more, or until lamb and potatoes are tender.

Uncover, add peas and scallions. Raise heat to boil away excess liquid. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve garnished with dill and accompanied by lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.

LAMB CHOP & MUSHROOM SKILLET

8 lamb chops, about 2-1/2 pounds
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Flour
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
6 green onions, sliced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine (such as pinot noir)

Sprinkle lamb chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Lightly coat chops with flour; place in hot skillet.

Sear until well browned, turning once. Remove to a plate and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.

To the skillet add the mushrooms, green onions, garlic, and butter. Cook the vegetables, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add beef broth and red wine and simmer until reduced by about 1/3.

Add lamb chops, cover skillet, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until lamb chops are done as desired. Serves 4.

MINT SAUCE FOR ROAST LAMB

1 cup very finely chopped fresh mint leaves, washed, dried
2 tablespoons sugar
4-6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Combine sugar with 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar in a small nonreactive saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Heat over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour over mint and toss well. Add sugar if necessary.

 

 
A Simple Feast for St. Patrick’s Day | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 12 March 2015 15:37

031215fSaint Patrick’s Day is next Tuesday and corned beef and cabbage is the traditional feast...in the United States, anyway (many in Ireland will be having turkey).

Often referred to as New England boiled dinner,  corned beef is one of the easiest dishes to prepare. All you have to do is boil away and occasionally check the vegetables for doneness.

Prepare it with potatoes and other root vegetables and serve with a mound of creamy, eye-watering horseradish.

Scotch pudding adds a nice touch for dessert.

TRADITIONAL CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE

3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
10 small red potatoes
5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges

Rinse corned beef, then place it in large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the spice packet that came with the corned beef.

Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.

Add whole potatoes and carrots, and cook until the vegetables are almost tender. Then, add cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.

Place vegetables in a bowl and cover. Add as much broth (cooking liquid reserved in the Dutch oven or large pot) as you want. Slice meat across the grain. Yields 5 servings.

Cook’s Tip: If seasoning packet is not included with corned beef brisket, substitute 1-1/4 teaspoons pickling spice, or just add 15 peppercorns, 8 whole cloves and a bay leaf.

IRISH SODA BREAD

2-1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup buttermilk*
2/3 cup raisins, chopped
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round layer-cake pan.

In foot-processor bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 3 tablespoons sugar and caraway seeds. Add butter and process until mixture resembles oatmeal. Put into medium-size bowl.

Make a well in center of flour mixture; pour in buttermilk and add raisins. Mix lightly.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently a few times. Shape into a 5-inch round loaf and place in prepared pan.

Using a sharp knife, cut dough crosswise into quarters, about one-third of the way through. Brush top surface with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar that has been mixed with the cinnamon. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with butter. Makes 1 loaf.

*If you don’t have buttermilk, put 1 tablespoon plain vinegar in measuring cup and add milk to make 1 cup.

CORN O’BRIEN

2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup minced white onion
2 tablespoons green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups whole kernel corn, drained
1 tablespoon chopped pimento peppers
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium heat, stirring until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the grease in the skillet.

Stir the onion and bell pepper into the skillet, and cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the corn, pimentos, and reserved bacon. Cook and stir until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving. Yields 6 servings.

SCOTCH PUDDING

4 large Pippin or similar apples, peeled, cored and cut into 16 pieces
1 cup regular rolled oats
3/4 cup light-brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1-1/2 cups milk
Vanilla ice cream, light cream or favorite whipped topping

Arrange half of apple slices in buttered 10-inch round deep-dish pan.

In bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, walnuts, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle half of oat mixture over apple slices. Dot top of apples with 2 tablespoons butter.

Arrange another layer of apple slices on top. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture and butter. Pour milk over top as evenly as possible.

Bake, uncovered, at 350°F until edges of pudding are brown and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream, light cream or whipped topping. Serves 8.

 

 

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