All Hail Asparagus, Spring is just around the corner

  So I walk into the produce section of my favorite green grocer and what do I spy? Why asparagus at .99 a pound. Are they kidding me? .99 a pound? Sign me up and shut the door, I’m all in for this special. As if in a daze my cart magically makes its way over to the stand and I find myself loading bundle after bundle of that sweet stalk of green goodness into my cart.

By the time I get out of my chlorophyll induced stupor I’m in my kitchen, the proud owner of 10 pounds of the stuff and no real plan on how to use it up before it starts to wilt. My plan, take a deep breath, do a little recipe research and cook up a storm.

Asparagus is one of Mother Nature’s finest gifts and is a sure sign that spring has sprung. It’s a part of the lily family and is sort of a first cousin to onions, leeks and garlic. Loaded with vitamins A, B and C it’s also a great source for folic acid, it’s at its best from May through June so now is the best time to stock up and chow down. It is a very versatile vegetable that can be prepared by steaming, roasting, grilling or even stir frying it. The spears should be firm and green with tightly closed firm tips. Choose thin or thick stalks is just a matter of personal preference, I don’t really taste a difference between the two. Pass up asparagus with thick woody looking stalks.  I don’t peel the stalks but I do cut off about 1/2 inch of the ends before cooking.

If you’d like a little variety in your life look for white or purple asparagus. They’re the same as the green variety they’ve just been grown differently; the white is grown like some mushrooms, without light so it doesn’t produce chlorophyll. You will find that the white asparagus is a tad bit sweeter but so is the price point. The purple is pretty but it does loose most of its purple color when cooked.

I’ve started cooking and don’t plan on stopping until the last stalk is devoured and invite you to do the same with these terrific recipes

 

GRILLED ASPARAGUS MOCK CRAB TART (dairy)

1lb. asparagus, cut into 1/3’s and grilled slightly

1/4 cup butter or margarine

4 to 5 portabella mushrooms chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoon parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups shredded Munster or pepper jack cheese

1/2 lb mock crab shredded or chopped

8 ounces vegetable cream cheese

4 eggs

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 13×9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a skillet melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for about 6 or 7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the heat and add the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and pepper.  Mix to combine and then press mushroom mixture evenly in bottom and up side of greased pan. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the mushroom crust. Place the asparagus and mock crab on top of the cheese. In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, eggs and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Beat to combine and so that there are no lumps. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus and crabmeat. Sprinkle the top with the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes then serve. Serves 8.

Modified from about.com

 

PUFFED ASPARAGUS AND LOX BITES (dairy)

1 lb fresh asparagus ends cut off, steamed till just crisp tender

1 package puff pastry dough (2 sheets), defrosted

1 cup shredded pepper jack or Swiss cheese

1/4 lb lox, cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Open puff pastry dough and cut each sheet into 1/3’s. Then cut each strip into 1/3’s. Roll each section out slightly so they form rectangles. On each section, lengthwise, place a few stalks of cooked asparagus on one edge, sprinkle some cheese, lox and green onions on top of the asparagus and then roll them up. Place the rolls, seam side down on the cookie sheet. Brush the top of each roll with the melted butter and sprinkle the top with a few sesame seeds. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until roll ups are golden browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Cut each roll in half and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

ASPARAGUS POPOVERS (dairy)

1 lb asparagus

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 pinch sugar

3 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425. In a medium saucepan, add 2 inched of salted water; bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut the spears crosswise into thirds. In a medium cast-iron skillet, add the butter. Place the skillet in the oven to melt the butter. In a medium bowl, microwave the milk on high for 30 seconds. Whisk in the eggs, then the flour, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add the asparagus pieces to the hot cast-iron skillet and pour the batter on top. Sprinkle with half of the cheese and bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese. Recipe makes 24 pieces

From the May 2008 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray

ASPARAGUS TID BITS (dairy)

1 lb asparagus cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb smoked white fish, broken into bite size pieces

12 oz gruyere cheese, sliced

1 loaf French bread, sliced in to 1/2-inch slices

1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

kosher salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Saute the asparagus in the olive oil until it’s just soft and set it aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the slices of French bread with olive oil. Place the oiled pieces, oil side up on the parchment paper, season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes until golden. Place a small piece of white fish on top of the toasted French bread, then put two to three pieces of asparagus, and top with one small slice of gruyere, Grind a little pepper on top, return to the oven for 2 minutes or just until the cheese melts. Serve immediately. Makes 12 to 14 pieces.

ASPARAGUS STRATA (dairy)

You can vary the amount of cheese according to your taste

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

2 carrots shredded

1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

3 cups milk or 1/2 and 1/2

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (for sauce)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper

6 large par boiled lasagna noodles

1 to 1 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 to 1 cup grated Romano cheese

1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Place the asparagus and shredded carrots on a cookie sheet with sides and toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes until they just begin to soften. Cool slightly and set them aside. In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the flour and whisk briskly and constantly until it’s combined. Cook for about 2 minutes whisking constantly. Add the milk and continue whisking and cooking until the sauce is thickened. Reduce the heat and add the nutmeg, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese and garlic. Stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove sauce from the heat. In a 9 X 13 pan, spread a few tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom. Top with 3 noodles then top with 1/3 of the roasted asparagus and carrot mixture. Sprinkle a little parmesan Romano and mozzarella cheese over the top of the asparagus. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese. Top with a layer of 3 lasagna noodles. Repeat the layers asparagus, cheese, sauce. Top the sauce on the top of the strata with the remaining cheeses. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden and the sides are bubbly. Let the cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Submitted by Corrine Rasterty, Finley NJ

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ASPARAGUS AND ONIONS HOT POT (dairy)

1 lb of fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

1 large onion, chopped into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons of butter, divided

2 tablespoons of flour

1 cup of milk

1/2 cup cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon of salt

pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, shredded.

1 cup of panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. In a skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter and saute the asparagus, garlic and onion until just slightly wilted. Put the mixture into the greased pan. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the flour and stir until smooth. Add the milk and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Add the cream cheese, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the asparagus and onion mixture. Mix to combine. Sprinkle the top with the cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

MAPLE GLAZED ASPARAGUS (pareve)

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Paprika

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 450. Line the cookie sheet with foil. Place the asparagus spears on a rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and maple syrup over the top. Toss to make sure all the spears are coated. Lightly sprinkle the asparagus with the paprika, salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 8 to 10 minutes then turn it over and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

ASPARAGUS AND PASTA SALAD (dairy)

6 to 8 slices Morning Star Farm ® fake bacon, cut into bite size pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper chopped

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on a long diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 lb. bow tie pasta, cooked according to the package directions, save 1 cup of the water used in cooking

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Parmesan for serving

Cook the Morning Star Farm ® fake bacon in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a fry pan until it’s crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels and but keep the oil in the pan. Saute the onion, mushrooms and red pepper in the skillet for about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the drained pasta and 1/2 cup of the water to the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine, scraping the bottom to remove the cooked on bits of vegetable. Cook for 1 minute and add the remaining water and 1/2 cup parmesan. Mix to combine and cook for 2 more minutes. Place the pasta mixture in a serving bowl, add the cooked Morning Star Farm® fake bacon and toss to combine. Serve with additional parmesan. Serves 6 to 8

Modified from an old Gourmet Magazine recipe

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Barley There (Ok, a bad pun but a great grain)

So there I was, cleaning out my pantry in a crazed moment of organization (believe me, they are few and far between) and lo and behold, I discover an open box of barley I had conveniently misplaced behind the other opened boxes of pasta, wild rice and ramen noodles I really need to finish. As I contemplated the box I realized that I have tons and tons of recipes that utilize this great grain and what better time to share them than when I’m all trying to use up this “stuff”

Barley is kind of a super fiber filled food and who can’t use more fiber in their diet these days. There are two types of barley typically available to consumers.  The first is pearl barley. This process barley has had its outer fibrous hull removed and is almost like white rice, great for soups and salads. Scotch barley is less processed barley. It holds up better in stews and cooked casseroles.

Barley has a slightly nutty and chewy flavor. I like to toast it (for 8 to 10 minutes in a skillet over a low heat) before cooking it to bring out its more robust flavor. You should know that barley expands A LOT when it cooks so make sure you have enough liquid to keep it from scorching. 1 cup dry barley expands to makes approx. 3 cups cooked barley. In the event, unlike me, you need to purchase some barley to make the following recipes please try and steer clear of the quick cooking kind. In my opinion, it’s just a poor imitation of the real stuff. Yes you can use the quick cooking barley if you’re in a hurry but for my money and taste the slower cooking kind is better in terms of flavor and texture.

 

How cook pearl barley:
In a saucepan combine 3/4 cup pearl barley, 2 1/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Makes approx 3 cups.

SHANGHI STIR FRY

 

1/2 cup barley
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 small peeled and diced eggplant
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
8 to 10 drops hot sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup shredded red cabbage

1/2 cup chopped cucumber

 

Place the barley and water in medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Set the barley aside. In large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chicken and garlic and stir fry 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cooked barley to the pan and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Remove the mixture to a bowl and set it aside. Do not clean the pan. Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add eggplant, bell pepper and onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add basil, hot sauce, sugar, peanut butter and soy sauce; cook 2 more minutes. Add the barley mixture to the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the serving bowl and garnish with peanuts, cucumber and red cabbage. Serves 4.

 

APPLES AND BARLEY CHICKEN

 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup barley
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
3 tablespoons apricot jam or apple butter

 

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9X13 casserole dish. In a large skillet heat the oil and sauté the onion, peppers and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the apple and curry powder and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the barley and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook an additional 15 minutes. Spoon the liquidly barley mixture into the greased casserole. Arrange the chicken pieces over the barley mixture. Season with garlic salt. Cover and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and brush the chicken with the apricot jam. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let stand for a few minutes before serving. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

CORN AND BARLEY CASSEROLE

 

1 cup barley
3 cups water
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil

2 teaspoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup diced fresh tomato
2/3 cup diced red bell pepper
4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced

In medium saucepan bring the water and approx. 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add the barley and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Add the corn and simmer 10 to 15 minutes longer. While the barley is cooking in a bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, basil, approx. 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the warm barley mixture and mix to combine. Cool the mixture to room temperature. Add the tomatoes, peppers, parsley and onions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for the flavors to combine. Serves 6 to 8

ORANGE ALMOND AND BARLEY SALAD

 

2 cups hot cooked barley
4 to 5 tablespoons sesame oil

1 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar
3-1/2 to 4 cups shredded romaine or red leaf lettuce

1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges drained but save 2 tablespoons liquid
1-1/2 to 2 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Rice noodles, for garnish

2/3 cup toasted almonds

 

Place the hot cooked barley into a large bowl. Drizzle the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and sugar over the hot barley, mix gently to coat Cover the barley and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour. Add the mandarin oranges, orange liquid, turkey, celery and green onions to the cold barley. Toss gently to combine. Arrange the salad greens on 4 dinner plates. Mound the barley mixture over the greens. Sprinkle the top of each salad with the rice noodles and almonds for garnish. Makes 4 main course servings or 8 salad servings.

 

BARLEY BEEF SOUP

 

1 1/2 lb beef stew meat cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 onions chopped

6 carrots diced

1 to 1 1/2 lb mushroom sliced

8 cups beef broth

1 cup barley

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

In the bottom of a soup pot brown the meat in the oil. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring often for 10 minutes. Add the broth, carrots, mushrooms and barley. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for at least 2 hours. In the last 15 minutes add the parsley and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper before serving. If the soup is too thick add water to thin it. Serves 8

 

VEGETABLE BARLEY SOUP

 

1 onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 parsnip, diced

2 potatoes, diced

2 tablespoon oil

8 cups water or broth

1 cup uncooked pearled barley

1 can pinto beans, drained

1 small can crushed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 large bay leaves

Salt and pepper

 

In a large soup pot, sauté the onions, celery, parsnip, potatoes and carrots for 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth or water and the remaining ingredients. Mix to combine and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the barley is soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and serve. Serves 8 to 10.

 

Submitted by Victoria Cambria Northbrook IL

 

CHICKEN BARLEY GUMBO

 

1 lb skinless chicken thighs

2 teaspoon olive oil

4 cups water

4 cups chicken broth

1 onion, chopped

2 cups seeded diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups corn

2 cups sliced okra (sliced)

2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon sage

2/3 cup barley

 

In a large sauce pan sauté the onions in the olive oil for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the chicken, cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the water and broth the mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Skim off the foam and add the garlic, red pepper, bay leaf, and sage. Cover and let simmer 15 to 30 minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, corn, and barley, cover and simmer for an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8 to 10.

 

Modified from about.com

Buffalo Wing Bananza

When I announced to my cooking class of pre schoolers that we were making Buffalo wings they all started giggling.BUFFALO’S DON’T HAVE WINGS MRS. GOLTZ!!!! Was the universal consensus of these 4 and 5 year olds. It was at this point that I realized explaining we’re talking chicken wings here and that we just call them Buffalo wings because the original hot and spicy dish was invented in a small bar onMain St.in downtownBuffaloNew Yorkwouldn’t get me very far. I mustered up my best I’m not kidding voice and said that these wings were from very teeny tiny special Buffalo and that they tasted a lot like chicken. Needless to say they didn’t believe me

It’s hard to believe that balabustas used to consider chicken wings as scraps. Not worth much except to enhance the flavor of stock or soup. Then, on October 30, 1964 inBuffalo, Anchor Bar owner Teressa Bellissimo was faced with feeding her son and his friends a late snack. She happened to have a lot of extra chicken wings on hand so she fried up the wings, dipped them in a spicy chili sauce, and served them with celery and creamy dressing. The wings were an instant hit and have since become a menu staple everywhere.

TraditionallyBuffalostyle sauce is cayenne pepper based sauce and usually has some spices added to enhance the basic flavor. These combinations of spices are what distinguish one Buffalo Wing sauce from another Today there are a gazillion different recipes for chicken wings, ranging from jerked wings to Oriental or even pizza. So, even if you can’t, like my family, handle the original hot stuff recipes you can experiment with what ever flavors and taste combinations you like and still enjoy the fun of eating wings.

Of course you can use other parts of the chicken with the following recipes if you want to make a main course instead of an appetizer. The parts of the wing used for wings recipes will vary from recipe to recipe. Some recipes want you to cut off the wing tip and use just the drummette and double-bone pieces without separating them. Some separate the drummette from the double-bone. You can use any or all the parts you like best, there is no one right way.

Plan on about five to six wings per pound, depending on size. Four to six wings per person makes an adequate serving. Raw wings can be frozen up to nine months and the cooked wings can be prepared and frozen up to one month in advance of when you’ll need them.

PIZZA WINGS

3   pounds chicken wings, about 18

1 jar pizza sauce (14 oz)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons dry pizza seasoning

2 tablespoons fresh parsley — chopped

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon coarse-grind pepper

Preheat oven to 425.  Line 2 jellyroll pans or cookie sheet with foil.  Arrange the chicken wings, skin side up, on the foil.  In a bowl combine the pizza sauce, vinegar, pizza seasoning, parsley salt and pepper. Mix to combine and set 1/2 cup of the mixture aside.  Brush the wings with the sauce mixture making sure to coat both sides.  Bake the wings for 20 to 30 minutes  Remove them from the oven when they are crispy.  Brush the cooked wings with the remaining sauce and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

BETTER THAN EVER BUFFALO WINGS

1/4 cup margarine, melted

2 to 3   tablespoonsTabascosauce

1   tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1    teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3    pounds chicken wings, about 18, tips removed

Preheat oven to 425. Using knife or scissors cut each wing at joint into 2 pieces. Rinse the pieces and dry them very well.  Line 2 jellyroll pans or cookie sheets with foil.  In a glass or ceramic bowl combine the margarine,Tabasco, vinegar, cayenne, salt, and paprika and garlic powder.  Mix well. Add the chicken to the mixture and toss to coat.  Arrange the coated wings on the prepared pan.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and meat is no longer pink near bone. Serves 6 to 8.

TACO WINGS

A beautifully different way to serve a simple appetizer

3   pounds chicken wings, about 18, tips removed

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2   cups iceberg lettuce, shredded

Optional:

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped lime wedges, pareve sour cream and guacamole,

Preheat oven to 425.  Line 2 jellyroll pans or cookie sheets with foil.  Arrange wings skin side up on pans.  In a bowl combine the oil, chili powder, cumin, onion powder and salt and pepper. Mix to form a paste.  Rub the paste all over wings.  Bake until crispy and golden, 25 to 30 mins.  Spread the lettuce over serving plate and place the wings on top.  Sprinkle the chopped cilantro over the top of the warm wings.  Serve with lime wedges, pareve sour cream and guacamole, if desired.  Serves 6 to 8.

GRILLED MARGARITA WINGS

2 pounds chicken wings, cut into 2 pieces at joint, tips removed

1/2 cup tequila

1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon freshly ground coarse black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

Wash the wings, pat dry and place in a large, heavy-duty resealable plastic food bag. In a small bowl, combine the tequila, orange juice concentrate, lemon juice and zest, garlic, cumin, pepper, salt and cilantro. Mix well and pour the marinade over the wings in the bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Prepare a medium-hot grill. Drain the wings, discarding the marinade. Grill the wings, turning often, until they are slightly charred and cooked through, about 25 minutes. You can broil these wings if grilling is not an option. Serves 4 to 5.

TACO CHIP CHICKEN WINGS

This is a very quick appetizer recipe and a good way to    use up the crumbs from your tortilla chips. Flavored chips work well with this recipe. Also try using the spicier taco seasoning mix if you want a hotter chicken… Great serves with hot pepper sauce,

2 lb. chicken drumettes

2 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix

4 cups crushed tortilla chip crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry. In a shallow dish or bowl combine the taco seasoning mix and tortilla chip crumbs. Mix to combine. Roll the chicken pieces in the chip mixture and place the coated drumettes on a lightly greased cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the drumettes and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

ORIENTAL CHICKEN WINGS

The trick to these is roasting them in a very hot oven.

1 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1 cup peanut or vegetable oil

1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped

1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely minced

1 tablespoon fresh garlic, finely minced

4 pounds chicken wings cut into 2 pieces at joint, tips removed

Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, oil, green onions, ginger, and garlic in a saucepan. Mix to combine and heat the sauce just to the boiling point. Set the mixture aside and cool to room temperature.  Rinse the chicken wings and pat it dry (make sure it’s very dry). Place all the pieces in a large glass or ceramic (not aluminum) bowl*. Pour the marinade over wings and stir to coat. Cover the chicken and allow it to marinate for several hours, or overnight in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to cook the wings preheat oven to 500. Line 2 jelly roll pans or cookie sheets with aluminum foil and arrange the wings on them. Brush the wings with the left over additional marinade. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once, until the wings are cooked and crispy brown at the edges. Serve hot or cold as an appetizer or as an entree. Serves 5 to 6.

*Or use large lock-style plastic bag.

Awesome Artichokes for Spring

    Every spring as I start to approach that dreaded day, (no, not April 15 or the last day of spring break for my kids) where I have to make the decision as to whither or not to actually purchase that new swim suit I’ve been trying to avoid for the past 3 years (deciding to actually put it on and then go outside in it is another nervous breakdown).
    I know, that unlike my sister Lois, who’s mottos are “I never met a swim suit I liked (or who liked me)” and “Control Top forever” that I’ll inevitably get into that “Oh yeah, it’s spring, I’d better start eating right, Diet” mind set.
    This isn’t actually that much of a hardship as it might appear to be. Right now, artichokes can be mine at bargain prices (rain, floods and other natural disasters in California not with standing). Every produce section I’ve visited in the last few weeks has been full to overflowing and now is the time to grab these first offerings of spring and go for the gusto.
     When choosing an artichoke it should look compact, (not necessarily small) plump, have the leaves tightly packed and have an even green color overall. Rinse the artichoke. Cut off the tip of each large leaf. Then cut off the top 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the artichoke with a sharp knife. Cut off the bottom 1/2 inch of the stem. Boil or steam the artichokes in a covered pot. Cook 30 to 40 minutes at a rolling boil or until the outer leaves pull away easily. Remove from heat and serve either hot or cold with butter or other sauces for dipping. To eat. Pull off the leaves, dip the meaty bottom part of the leaf in the dipping sauce and bite off. You can remove all the leaves and just eat the bottom or heart of the artichoke. You must however remove the top part of the  heart (small bitter leaves and filaments in the center) before you can eat the bottom portion.

            Fresh artichoke taste wonderful, however if you need to use a large amount for a recipe the canned or frozen variety work almost as well.

ORANGE AND ARTICHOKE SALAD

6  cooked artichoke hearts
1/2 tablespoon margarine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 oranges, peeled, and segmented
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
salad greens
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Salad greens

In a skillet saute the garlic in the margarine and place in a small bowl. Cut the hearts into quarters and set aside. Add the oil, orange juice, grated orange rind and the lemon juice to the garlic. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine the orange segments and the artichoke hearts in a large bowl and drizzle the sauce over. Let set for at least 1 hour. To serve: arrange the artichoke and oranges on the salad greens and sprinkle with the parsley. Serves 4. This can be doubled.

TICKLE MY TASTEBUDS ARTICHOKES

10 artichoke hearts, uncooked and halved
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

Soak the artichoke hearts in the lemon juice, salt and water for approx 1 hour. Pour them and the liquid in which they were steeped in a pot with the oil, garlic, and sugar. Simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the artichokes to a serving dish. Thicken the sauce with cornstarch and pour over the hearts. Cool sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley and serve cold as a side dish. Serves 4 this can be doubled.    

ARTICHOKES WITH TWO DIPS
4 Large California Artichokes

   Wash artichokes under cold running water. Cut off stems at base and remove small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in deep saucepan large enough to hold snugly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and two to three inches boiling water. (Lemon juice, herbs, garlic powder or onion powder may be added, 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. Cool completely; cover and refrigerate to chill. Makes 4 artichokes.

CREAMY THAI DIP

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

In a bowl combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Makes 3/4 cup.

HONEY MUSTARD DIP

1/4  cup prepared mustard

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

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

CRABBY DIP

1 cup shredded mock crab

2 tablespoons water juice

8 oz cream cheese softened

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4  teaspoon garlic salt

Blend cream cheese and milk until smooth, add the lemon juice and garlic salt. Stir in mock crab. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about  1 1/2 cup.

CREAM OF ARTICHOKE SOUP

1 lb frozen artichoke hearts
2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced onions
3 lbs. artichokes (3 to 4 medium, trimmed of thorns)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme

croutons

Defrost the hearts and puree them in food processor with 1/2 cup of the stock, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. In a sauce pan heat the remaining broth the  half-and-half, and thyme. Add the artichoke mixture and bring to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes. Serve croutons Serves 8.

COUSCOUS-STUFFED ARTICHOKES
4    large California artichokes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1    teaspoon curry powder
3/4   teaspoon ground cumin
1/2   teaspoon garlic salt
1    cup instant couscous
1/4   cup currants
1/2  cup sliced green onion
1/2   cup toasted slivered almonds, chopped
1/2   teaspoon lemon zest
2    tablespoons lemon juice
2    tablespoons vegetable oil

 Wash artichokes. Cut off stems at base and remove small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in deep saucepan large enough to hold snugly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 to 3 inches boiling water. 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. Carefully remove center petals and fuzzy centers with a spoon and discard. Keep warm or chill as desired.

   In medium saucepan combine chicken broth, curry powder, cumin and garlic salt; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in couscous and currants. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in green onion and almonds. Combine lemon peel, lemon juice and vegetable oil; stir into couscous.

  Gently spread artichoke leaves until center cone of leaves is revealed. Pull out center cone. With a spoon, scrape out any purple-tipped leaves and fuzz. Fill centers of artichokes with couscous mixture. Makes 4 generous servings.

COOK’S TIP: Fresh cooked and chilled artichokes are easy to keep on hand for quick meals. Refrigerated in a covered container, they will keep up to a week.

Recipe Courtesy of California Artichoke Advisory Board

© Eileen Goltz artichoke

Passionate Pineapple

There is always the problem of what to bring as a hostess gift when you’ve been invited to share a meal with friends. A Waterford vase with flowers is obviously too over the top and book, while nice is problematic in that my taste (murder mystery eclectic and veering towards who lopped off Colonel  Mustards head in the library)  is probably not what’s on your must read list. A bottle of good wine is better but in my mind I always want to bring something just a little bit different so I bring wine AND fruit. My favorite fruit of choice is the pineapple. In fact, in tropical climates pineapples are a symbol of home hospitality and are often given as housewarming gifts, holiday gifts, get well gifts, or just about any other special occasion where a gift would be appropriate.

There are three basic types of pineapple available to us consumers: the smooth cayenne (the most popular and readily available), the red Spanish, and the sugar loaf. All are loaded with fiber vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. Pineapples are also full of omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene. You should look for large fruits and let them sit at room temperature for a few days before using them. This isn’t to ripen them (they don’t ripen any further after they are picked) but rather to allow it to soften and become juicer. Don’t let them sit too long, however, as they can start to ferment and rot rather quickly. Color doesn’t matter; the bestest of the best pineapples are firm, plump and have a sweet obvious pineapple aroma. The one test I like best is to pick up the pineapple and smell the bottom of it. If it smells like fresh pineapple its ready, if it has no smell, it’s not ripe yet, pass on it; and if it smells like wine or has a slightly overblown odor, it’s over ripe and may have already started to ferment and spoil.

While some may opt for getting a pre cut pineapple from the store the best way to enjoy your pineapple is to cut it just before you want to use it. There are two schools of thought regarding the peeling of a pineapple, you can peel it then cut it or cut it then peel it. In my opinion, neither is better it is truly a matter of personal choice. Regardless of which way you choose to peel it you need to cut off the leafy crown (unless you’re planning on using the shell with the crown as a decoration). Know that there will be some waste as the skin is difficult to remove without cutting away some of the fruit.

 

Basic pineapple cutting

1. Chop off the crown of the pineapple about a 1/2 inch below the crown.

2. Cut off about 1/2 inch off the bottom.

3. Flip the pineapple over in a bowl and let it sit for about 10 minutes to let the juices flow through the fruit before cutting

4 Cut the pineapple into quarters

5. Cut out the center core of each quarter (I like to eat the core but most people toss it)

6. Cut away skin of pineapple

7. Slice the quarters into chunks or slices.

The pineapple is so versatile that the fruit can be eaten as is or topped with yogurt, or broiled and topped with brown sugar and nuts, used as an ingredient in a salad dressing, a marinade, a main course or even in a dessert like the classic pineapple upside-down cake. Whatever your pineapple motis oporandi is the following recipes will make your “gift” one that’s never returned.

 NOTE: If fresh pineapple is too expensive or not readily available you can use the canned in its own juice kind for the following recipes.

CUCUMBER PINEAPPLE SALAD

2 seedless cucumbers coarsely chopped

1 onion red, diced fine

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1/4 cup lemon juice 

2 tablespoons soy sauce 

1 tablespoon sugar 

1/4 teaspoon chili sauce style

2 tablespoons mint fresh, chopped (optional)

Cut cucumber lengthwise in quarters. Slice each quarter into 1/4 inch slices. Peel pineapple and cut into quarters. Remove core. Cut each quarter in half and slice into 1/2 inch slices.

Combine cucumber, pineapple, onion and parsley leaves in a bowl. In another bowl, combine lemon juice, soy sauce, sugar and chili sauce. Pour over salad and toss together. Serve on a platter. Serves 6 to 8.

Submitted by Randi Percelle St. Louis MO

PINEAPPLE SALAD WITH HONEY DRESSING

2 to 3 cups bite size pineapple chunks

2 to 3 cups bite size cantaloupe chunks

1 to 2 cups seedless grapes

2 cups strawberries sliced

1 cup blackberries or blueberries or raspberries

Honey Dressing

1/2 cup sugar 

1 teaspoon prepared dry mustard

1 teaspoon paprika 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1/2 cup honey 

1 tablespoon lemon juice 

1/4 cup rice wine or apple cider vinegar 

1 cup oil

1 teaspoon onion, grated

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds 

In a large bowl combine the fruit toss gently. Cover and refrigerate. In a blender combine the sugar mustard, paprika, salt, hone, lemon juice and vinegar. Blend until combine and then slowly add the oil while the blender is on. Pour the dressing into a bowl and add the onion, celery seed and poppy seeds. Mix to combine, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serves spoon the dressing over the fruit and toss to combine. Serves 6 to 8

You can serve this over salad greens

PINEAPPLE TARTS WITH HAAGEN-DAZS ® PINEAPPLE COCONUT ICE CREAM

1   fresh pineapple

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (from 17.3-oz. pkg.)

Topping:

1 teaspoon butter

2 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon mint, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

1 cup mango, dice

1 cup pineapple chunks (reserved from whole pineapple)

1 carton (14 fl. oz.) Haagen-Dazs® Pineapple Coconut Ice Cream

 Cut whole pineapple into 1-inch slices. Core centers from each slice to create rings. Set aside four whole rings, cut up remaining rings into small 1/4-inch chunks. Measure 1 cup of chunks for relish garnish, set aside. (Any remaining pineapple may be used as desired.)

Heat oven to 425. In 10-inch skillet melt butter; add brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil; add pineapple rings and chunks. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until pineapple is light golden brown. Remove from heat. In 13×9-inch pan, place pineapple rings allowing space between each ring. Pour brown sugar mixture over top of pineapple.

Unfold pastry, cut into four equal squares (pastry cutter may be used to create decorative edge). Pierce pastry all over with fork. Place pastry squares over each ring in pan. Bake at 425. for 20 to 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add remaining relish ingredients; gently stir until sugar is melted and fruit is just warmed. Remove from heat.

To serve; remove each pastry from pan, inverting onto serving plates. Place spoonful of relish on top each tart and top with 1 large scoop (1/2 cup) ice cream. Serve slightly warm. Serves 4

Modified from Haagen-Dazs web site

PINEAPPLE ORANGE FREEZE

1 orange peeled and sectioned

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple

1 banana

1 1/2 cup of orange juice

1 cup of ice

In a blender combine the ice and juice and blend until slushy. Add the banana, orange and pineapple. Blend until smooth and serve. Makes 2 servings

PINEAPPLE CHICKEN SALAD

2 lbs, cooked chicken (you can use turkey) (I use leftovers)

1 to 2 cups diced pineapple

3 or 4 stalks celery, sliced

1 red pepper, diced

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup toasted pecans

In a large bowl combine the chicken, pineapple and celery and mix to combine. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, milk, celery salt and pepper. Add the mayonnaise mixture to the chicken and toss to combine. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle the pecans over top just before serving. Serves 6

Submitted by Charlotte Janovski Chicago IL

UPSIDE DOWN PINEAPPLE CUPCAKES

1 pineapple cut into chunks, drained, save the juice (you won’t need to use all the pineapple)

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Cupcake Batter:

1 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice or milk or water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a nonstick muffin pan with vegetable spray. Place the pineapple chunks paper towels to drain it completely.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and melted butter. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin pan cups. Arrange the pineapple chunks decoratively on top of the sugar mixture but only just cover the bottom; don’t put too much pineapple in each one. Set the pan aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer blend together the butter, sugar and pineapple juice, beating for 2 minutes until smooth. Beat in the egg until combine and then add the flour and baking powder, Mix to combine. Spoon the batter over the fruit in the muffin pan, filling each cup three-quarters full. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the pan for 5 minutes, then place a wire rack on top of the muffin pan and invert. Let the pan stay on top of the cupcakes for about 15 seconds to make sure that they release from the pan. Remove the pan and let cool completely on the rack. Makes 12.

Modified from bigoven.com

Get Me Guacamole: Stat!!!

I came to realize that what I thought was guacamole was really only a poor imitation of the real thing. My neighbor Marta, a great cook and Mexico City native had several “authentic” versions available whenever guests like me stop by that sent me begging for her recipes and scurrying back to my kitchen to try to recreate some of her family favorites.

Avocados are the main ingredient in guacamole. The Aztec’s and then the Spaniards who colonized the area documented their love of the fruit.  Avocados are a very healthy fruit with 60% more potassium than bananas. Avocados are also sodium and cholesterol free and have only five grams of fat per serving, most of it the “good-for-you” monounsaturated kind.
      Considered a New World produce, there don’t seem to be any date specific “first” guacamole recipes The Aztecs referred to guacamole as ahuaca-mulli which translates to “avocado sauce” or “avocado mixture”. Seems that one of the reasons they like it so much was that they believed that the avocado had supernatural aphrodisiac properties (ok, that’s obviously an entirely different column for a different time). 

Since avocados are the main ingredient in guacamole, it’s important to start with a fresh, ripe avocado. Check for ripeness by gently pressing the outside of the avocado. If there is no give, the avocado is not ripe yet and will not taste good. If there is a little give, the avocado is ripe. If there is a lot of give, the avocado may be past ripe and not good. For most purposes, the Hass variety of avocado is usually the best choice. It has a sublime buttery taste and smooth texture that is perfect for guacamole.

Fresh garlic is also a must.  The pre minced garlic (sold in a jar) or garlic powder just doesn’t have the punch of the freshly chopped. However, be careful that a heavy hand with the garlic doesn’t have it overpowering the avocado. Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice adds not only flavor and punch to your basic guacamole, it helps preserve it longer from browning. Fresh, finely-chopped cilantro is another ingredient thing that can enhance the flavor of your guacamole. However, be warned cilantro has a distinctive flavor and may not be to everyone’s liking. If you’re into onion, you’ll love the sharp flavor, crunch and texture it gives to guacamole. I also add chilies and peppers if I have them available. Last, but not least, I usually add fresh tomatoes.  Make sure your tomatoes are fresh and firm so that they keep their shape as well as adding a subtle tang to the recipe

             I’m planning my own personal guacamole party this weekend. Everyone’s invited, just make sure to bring your own chips, I’m not planning on sharing mine.

 

NOTE: For a very quick and easy “guac” just take a 1/4 cup of your favortite salsa and mix it in with 1 mashed avocado.

CLASSIC GUACAMOLE

4 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 ripe, medium Roma tomato, seeded, diced

1/2 cup minced sweet white onion

2 serrano chilies, seeded, minced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

4 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Hot pepper sauce, sea salt, white pepper to taste

Cut avocado in large chunks and mash them coarsely in large bowl with a fork. Add the cumin, tomatoes, onion, chilies, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper and hot pepper sauce and blend gently, leaving some small chunks is fine. Taste and adjust seasoning with more pepper sauce, salt and pepper if desired. Makes 2 to 2 1/2 cups.

PACIFIC RIM GUACAMOLE

1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds

1 large ripe avocado

1 tablespoon shredded pickled ginger

3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

-OR

3 tablespoons Cider vinegar, mixed with1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon Wasabi powder or prepared horseradish

15 to 20 won ton skins

Place sesame seeds in a 7-8″ frying pan over medium-high heat. Shake pan often until seed begins to pop, 3-4 minutes. Pour them from pan; set aside to cool. Peel and pit avocado; dice into a bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon sesame seed, ginger, vinegar, and wasabi; mix gently. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining seed. Serve with wonton crisps.

.

wonton crisps: Preheat oven to 450.  Grease a cookie sheet. One at a time dip the wonton skins in water; shake off excess. Lay them in a single layer on the greased baking sheet. Bake for 4 to 8 minutes, depending on thickness of the won ton skins. Cool on racks. If you want to make the crisps a day or two ahead of time package them in an airtight container and store at room temperature. Serves 6

CAJUN GUACAMOLE

This spicy guacamole combines herbs, red peppers and cayenne and was sent to me by a reader from New York.

2 avocados, about 1 pound

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup small cherry tomatoes (cut in halves or quarters, if large)

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

3 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon chopped, fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 rounded teaspoon dried

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place the avocado in a bowl. Coarsely mash it (DO NOT PUREE). Stir in the lemon juice. Add the peppers, tomatoes, green onion, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne. Mix to combine. This recipe tastes best made as close to serving as possible. For short-term storage, seal in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the guacamole. Serves 6.

GUACAMOLE WITH CHUNKY CHICKEN

8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup ripe avocado, diced

1 plum tomato, seeded and diced

1 tablespoon roasted red pepper, diced

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/8 teaspoon chili paste

Preheat oven to 350. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and place them in a baking dish and cover with foil. Cook it for about 35 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. When cool, dice into 1/4-inch dice. In a bowl combine the chicken, avocado, tomato, red pepper, oregano, cumin, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, and chili paste. Mix together gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips or pita wedges. Serves 8

BLACK BEAN GUACAMOLE

1 large avocado, diced
juice from one lime
2/3 cup canned black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 green onions chopped
1 tomato seeded and chopped
hot sauce to taste

In a bowl combine the avocado and lime juice. Add the black beans, green onion, and tomato. Mix to combine but don’t mash the avocado and add the salt and hot sauce to taste. Makes approx. 2 cups. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

GUACAMOLE MOUSSE

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup cold water

1 cube chicken bouillon, crumbled

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup avocado, diced

1/2 cup sour cream

3 tablespoon finely chopped green onions

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

chopped red peppers for garnish  

chopped green pepper for garnish

 Soften gelatin in cold water in a small saucepan.  Add the bouillon cube and salt.

 Heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin and bouillon are dissolved; cool slightly.

 In a bowl combine the avocado, sour cream, green onion, lemon juice, and hot sauce; stir in gelatin mixture.  Pour the mixture into a 3-cup mold and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Unmold onto a serving dish and garnish with chopped peppers.  Serve with crackers.  Makes about 2 2/3 cups.

GRILLED ONION GUACAMOLE

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon pepper, ground

1 teaspoon cumin ground

3/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste

1 red onion large

3 avocados

1 tomato large, diced

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

3 Serrano chilies

3 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Lime juice, fresh, to taste

In a small bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, ground pepper, cumin and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Place this marinade in a shallow dish. Slice the onion into 1/4 inch thick slices, add to the marinade, and let sit for an hour. Heat a grill or grill pan until quite hot. Drain the liquid from the onion and place on the grill, about 3 minutes a side. Cool slightly and then coarsely chop the grilled onion. Peel, seed, and cut the avocado into 1/2″ dice (do not mash). Seed and finely chop the chilies. In a bowl combine the garlic, tomato, avocado, chopped onion, cilantro and season to taste with salt and lime juice. Mix gently so as not to mash. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve. Makes 2 cups. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

GUACAMOLE WITH CORN

1 1/2 pound fresh or frozen corn kernels (not canned)
1/4 cup water
1 cup of your favorite guacamole recipe
1/3 cup finely chopped roasted red bell peppers, jarred or fresh
1 to 3 tablespoon canned diced green chilies, (I use medium hot)
1 teaspoon rice wine or apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon lime juice
Salt and black pepper to taste

Cook the corn in the water, either in a saucepan or in a microwave, until heated throughout, about 3 minutes. Cool and make sure to drain thoroughly. In a bowl combine the guacamole, peppers, chilies, lime juice and vinegar. Mix gently to combine and season with salt and pepper. Serves 6 to 8. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

Fantastic Fillo Dough

Every now and then I like to spice things on my holiday table up a bit. Not spice in the traditional, add enough cayenne, horseradish or Wasabi to incinerate a tongue and blow smoke out of everyone’s ears but rather adding a special twist to a presentation that has my guests (and family) saying WOW, how did you do that. For my gang buster presentation I reach for my special ingredient, fillo dough.

This paper thin dough, pronounced FEE-loh and often spelled phyllo, literally means “leaf” in Greek. Best known for being used in a dessert called baklava. Its distinctive texture is crispy yet airy it lends itself to being bent, rolled and pinched a variety of shapes. Not only is it used in meat, milk or pareve recipes it is equally at home in sweet or savory dishes.  Using fillo dough can be fun or frightening depending on your attitude. My supposition is that anyone, with a little bit of help and knowledge, can use it and create fabulous appetizers, main courses and desserts for their holiday table. 

Fillo typically comes frozen (if you can get the fresh stuff, do, it’s amazing) and it can be refrozen up to 3 months or stored in the refrigerator 2 weeks. You should allow the fillo to thaw in box at room temperature at least 5 hours*. Do not open until all other ingredients are assembled and you are ready to work. Carefully unroll fillo sheets on a smooth, dry surface. Remove any fillo you don’t need for your recipe, re-roll, wrap in plastic and set aside.  

HELPFUL HINTS:

1. Be sure to keep dough moist when putting recipes together – to ensure crispness do not use overly moist fillings. Fillings should be chilled and not excessively moist.

2. While traditional dishes call for brushing each fillo leaf with melted butter, try a light coating of safflower, olive, or other cooking oil on every second layer. You can also use most cooking sprays with excellent results.

3. To prevent edges from cracking, lightly brush edges first and then work into center. Use a soft bristle brush to spread oil or butter over fillo, not a hard bristle brush.

4. Be sure to brush the last layer of fillo with melted butter.

5. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet.

6. The faster you can work, the easier working with fillo will be

HOW TO MAKE FILLO POUCHES

Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Layer 4 fillo sheets, brushing each with melted butter.

2 ” squares will produce 15 pouches: Use1 teaspoons of filling.

3″ squares will produce 12 pouches: Use 2 teaspoons of filling.
4″ squares will produce 6 pouches: Use 3 teaspoons of filling.

5″ squares will produce 2 pouches: Use 4 teaspoons of filling.
6″ squares will produce 2 pouches: Use 5 teaspoons of filling.

Brush fillo from edge of filling to each point of square lightly with water. Gather points of square and pinch together just above filling. Brush small pouch with butter. Place at least 1″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet or baking pan and bake in preheated 350 oven for about 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Bake large pouches for 25 to 30 minutes

*Microwave Defrosting: Remove fillo roll from box and cut end of wrapper to vent.

Defrost in microwave (power level 3) for 30 seconds. Turn fillo 180 degrees; defrost an additional 30 seconds (power level 3). Remove from microwave, cover cut end and set on counter 30 minutes to finish

BERRIES AND CREAM BASKET

10 sheets fresh or frozen fillo dough, thawed

4 Tablespoon butter, melted

3 Tablespoon sugar, divided

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup mascarpone or cream cheese

1/2 cup lemon curd

3 cups assorted berries, divided

confectioners’ sugar

 Preheat oven to 375.  Tear off a 40” sheet of foil.  On lightly greased cookie sheet, crumple foil and shape into oval measuring 10” x 6 1/2 on the inner perimeter.  Unroll fillo sheets; cover loosely with waxed paper or plastic wrap, and then cover completely with damp kitchen towel.  Place 1 fillo sheet on work surface.  Using pastry brush, lightly brush melted butter on fillo sheet from center outward, being careful to smooth out any wrinkles.  Lightly sprinkle buttered fillo sheet with 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar.  For a richer flavor, use light brown sugar.  Fold lengthwise in half; brush with butter again.  Place fillo sheet lengthwise in foil shape, allowing half to extend over foil.  Crumble overhanging edge and allow to sit on top of foil.  Repeat with remaining fillo, butter and sugar, slightly overlapping sheets.  Bake 14-18 minutes until golden and crisp.  Cool on wire rack.  Very carefully remove fillo from foil.  In medium bowl, with mixer or whisk, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form.  In another bowl, using rubber spatula, combine mascarpone and lemon curd until blended.  Fold in 2 1/2 cups berries and whipped cream. Spoon into cooled fillo shell.  Scatter remaining berries on top; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.  Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

CARAMELIZED VEGETABLE ROLL UPS

3 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped red onion

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets

1 cup diced extra sharp cheddar

1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 tablespoon drained capers

1 package Fillo Factory fillo dough

Preheat oven to 375.  Toss vegetables with oil and pepper in a shallow 2 quart baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.  Uncover, stir and bake another 10-15 minutes, until tender and starting to brown.  Cool.  Stir in broccoli, cheddar, vinegar, parsley and capers.  Set aside.  Turn oven to 350F.  Cover 12 sheets fillo dough snugly with plastic wrap.  (Replace remainder in package and refrigerate.)  Take 1 sheet, spray lightly with oil and fold in half.  Place 1/4 cup filling along narrow side of dough.  Fold in 1 inch and roll up.  Place seam side down on baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining sheets and filling.  Bake 12-14 minutes.  Makes 12 roll up appetizers.

FILLO SALMON ROLLS

1 (14-3/4 ounce) can pink salmon

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery with leaves

1 (14-3/4 ounce) jar chunky tomato pizza or marinara sauce

1 teaspoon crumbled rosemary

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas

16 sheets fillo dough

Lemon juice

Drain salmon, reserving liquid.  Discard skin and any large bones.

Oil-spray bottom of a large, heavy pot, heat to very hot.  Stirring constantly, sauté garlic over high heat 1 minute.  Add onion and sauté, stirring, 2 minutes.  Add celery; sauté 2 minutes.  Add tomato sauce, rosemary and reserved salmon liquid.  Simmer about 7 minutes or until thick, scraping up brown bits and stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, stir in peas; mix well.   Add salmon, breaking up large pieces with spoon.  Add ground pepper; set aside.

Preheat oven to 400.  Oil-spray a large baking sheet; set aside.  Lightly spray 1 sheet fillo and fold to make an 8-1/2 X 12 inch rectangle. Spray fillo top.  Repeat with second sheet of fillo and stack.  Spread a rounded 1/2-cup salmon mixture on fillo, about 1-1/2 inches in from short sides.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Fold in edge on short sides.  Roll up, starting on long side, jelly-roll style.  Place, seam-side down, on prepared fillo sheets, spacing rolls on tray.  (You will have eight 6 X 2 inch rolls).  Place in center of oven, turn heat down to 375 and bake 18 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve immediately.  Makes 8 entree servings.

NOTE:  Rolls may be frozen before baking.  If frozen, thaw before baking.

STRAWBERRY NAPOLEONS

PASTRY LAYERS

1/3 cup slivered almonds

8 almond cookies

2 Tablespoon sugar

8 sheets of fillo dough

1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

CREAM FILLING

1/3 cup whipping cream on non dairy topping cream

2 Tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

1 cup sour cream

1 pint strawberries, cleaned and sliced

1 cup strawberries, cleaned and pureed

1 cup blueberries, cleaned and pureed

2 tablespoons sugar

 Heat oven to 375.  In a food processor combine the almonds, cookies, and sugar and process until finely ground.  Grease a large baking sheet. Place 1 sheet of fillo on waxed paper.  Brush with melted butter or margarine, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoon crumb mixture.  Place another sheet of fillo on top and repeat buttering and sprinkling until all 8 pastry shells are used.  Using a 3” round biscuit cutter, cut pastry into 16 rounds.  Place rounds on baking sheet.  Place scraps on 2nd baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool completely.

Combine the chopped strawberries and pureed blueberries in a bowl. Add the tablespoon of sugar and mix to combine. Set aside.  Whip cream and confectioners’ sugar until stiff or add the confectioner’s sugar to the whipped topping.  Fold in sour cream.  Place about 1 tablespoon cream each on 8 of the pastry rounds.  Top with some berries and pureed berry mixture, then remaining pastry rounds, cream, pureed berries and berries.  Spoon some additional pureed berries on plate around each napoleon.  Makes 8 napoleons.

Modified from a Redbook recipe

TURKEY CANNELLONI WRAPPED IN FILLO WITHY RED PEPPER COULIS

Olive oil cooking mist

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 diced celery heart

1 lb. ground turkey breast

1/4 lb. wild mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, crimini, etc.)

2 Tablespoon chopped garlic

3 1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded chopped, and drained (about 4 cups)

2 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon chopped thyme

1 teaspoon chopped oregano

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

12 sheets fillo dough

4 oz. nonfat cream cheese

RED PEPPER COULEES

2 red ball peppers, roasted, cored, seeded, and peeled

1 cup chicken broth

1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

12 basil leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

To make coulees, process roasted pepper flesh, broth, garlic, and basil in a food processor until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper; cover lightly and set aside.

To make filling, set a large skillet over medium heat and spray generously with mist.  When hot, stir in onions.  Cover and “sweat” onions for 2-3 minutes, lowering heat as needed, until soft.  Add celery and cook for 1 minute.  Add turkey and cook, stirring, until golden.  Stir in mushrooms and garlic.  Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until garlic becomes fragrant.  Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring now and then.  Remove from heat and chill for 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 400.  Use three sheets of Fillo at a time, keeping the rest covered with a piece of plastic wrap, then a damp towel.  Lay sheets, one on top of the other, on a work surface with a 12” end closest to you.  Spray top sheet lightly with mist.  Use about 1/3 cup of cold filling and form into a mound near the bottom of the first sheet, leaving about 4” at each side;  spread about 1 oz cream cheese on top.  Start rolling turkey filling in top sheet, slowly and carefully, until reaching midway on sheet.  Fold sides over roll; continue rolling to top.  Set this first cannelloni on a nonstick baking sheet.  Repeat this procedure with remaining 2 sheets of Fillo, one at a time.  Continue to make 9 more cannelloni, working with 3 sheets at a time.  Lightly spray rolls with mist.  Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden brown.  Garnish with oregano and serve immediately with coulees.  Makes 6 servings

Courtesy of Home

SALMON IN FILLO CUPS WITH CUCUMBER SESAME SALSA
1 cup cucumbers, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 teaspoon jalapeño pepper, minced
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
20 9×14” sheets Athens Fillo Dough, thawed (1 roll)
Non-stick cooking spray
1 lb. cured or smoked skinless salmon fillet, thinly sliced
1 cup low fat sour cream

Thaw fillo. Prepare Salsa: In small mixing bowl, combine cucumbers, jalapeño pepper, ginger, sugar and oil mixing lightly. Chill for 1 hour. Layer 5 fillo sheets, spaying each from edge to edge with non-stick cooking spray between each layer, repeat with remaining 5 sheets. Cut circles 1 1/2 times larger than mini muffin pan diameter. Preheat oven to 350. Carefully push fillo into pan and press carefully and firmly against bottom and sides. Bake empty tart shells in preheated oven for 9 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Remove from pan. Spoon 1 teaspoon of sour cream into each shell, top with a spoonful of salsa and garnish with slices of salmon attractively shaped. Serve immediately. Makes 40 appetizers.

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