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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Berries Galore/kosher recipes

I was recently chastised by one of my readers for not writing about strawberries and blueberries and blackberries this year. I emailed her back saying I’d get right on that and  she then replied saying that every year when they get really cheap she likes to load up on whatever berry is on sale that week and use them as much as she can and then freeze the leftovers to use later when they’re not so cheap. In my response to her response I asked her what she was looking for in the way of recipes and her reply was, and I quote “anything that isn’t the same “old boring spinach and strawberry salad  or blueberry muffin recipe you see in every newspaper or magazine for the past 30 years”.

I pondered her challenge for about 30 seconds and dove right into my treasure trove of “gotta try this someday” recipes and came up with quite a few different, unusual and downright spectacular non run of the mill recipes. So ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, grab whatever kind of berry you like (and for the most part they are interchangeable in the following recipes) and start your ovens, mix masters and blenders and let the creating begin.

1 cup = 6 or 7 strawberries

1 (16 oz.) pkg.  strawberries equals approximately approx 3 cups sliced or chopped

1 (16 oz.) pkg. strawberries equals approximately approx 1 3/4 cups

BAKED FRENCH TOAST WITH BLUEBERRY SAUCE (dairy)

1 loaf French or Italian Bread or challah, sliced

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

5 cups blueberries (approx 1 1/2 pounds fresh or 2 (12-ounce) bags frozen)

1 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Powdered sugar

Place the bread slices in an ungreased 9X13 pan and set it aside. In a bowl combine the eggs, milk, baking powder, and vanilla together and whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, turning to coat the bread completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 450. Grease another 9×13-inch baking pan. In a bowl combine the blueberries (don’t defrost if frozen), chopped nuts (these are optional), cinnamon, sugar, and cornstarch and then spread it over the bottom of the prepared pan. Gently place the pieces of bread that have been soaking on top of the berry mixture (it’s best if the wettest side is placed face up). Make sure that the pieces fit together so that there are no gaps, they should be snug, so cut to fit if necessary. Brush tops of the bread with melted butter. Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden and the berries are bubbling around the sides. Remove from the oven and let set for 5 minutes, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

NOTE: I’ve made this dish using with raspberries, peaches, strawberries and a mixture of a few fruits.  Serves 6 to 8.

Modified from a Woman’s World article, date unknown.

A CLASSIC ZABAGLIONE OR SABAYONE (dairy)

A Zabaglione is the Italian version of the French Sabayon custard like dessert (or visa versa). It is typically served with sliced berries.

5 egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup semi dry or sweet wine or orange liqueur

1 cup whipping cream (whipping cream), whipped until stiff

5 1/4 cups fresh berries (blackberries, blueberries, quartered strawberries, and/or raspberries)

Set up a double boiler or a medium-size stainless-steel bowl over a pot of simmering water.  With a hand held electric mixer or thin wire whip, beat the egg yolks and sugar together approximately 3 minutes or until pale yellow.  Slowly whisk in the wine and set the bowl over the barely simmering water (water should not touch bottom of bowl).

Continue to beat constantly, approximately 10 to 15 minutes, until the eggs triple in volume, thicken, and reach a temperature of 140, as registered on an instant thermometer. The eggs will first become frothy, and then as they cook, they will slightly stiffen but still hold the air. If you stop whipping or the water boils you might scramble the eggs. Be sure to move the beater or whip around the bowl so the eggs cook evenly. NOTE: If the eggs begin to curdle pull the insert away from the water for a few seconds to cool it (keep whisking constantly). Remove from heat and cool the mixture completely in the refrigerator. When the mixture is cool, gently fold in prepared whipped cream using a rubber spatula.

NOTE: Zabaglione can be made ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for several days. Bring the sauce to room temperature before serving with your favorite berries.

In a serving dish (a large martini or wine glass makes a nice presentation), dollop some of the zabaglione. Add fresh berries. Finish by adding another good-side dollop of zabaglione and top with mint sprig and a few more berries. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Modified from epicurious.com

WHOLE WHEAT BERRY BANANA BREAD

3 large over-ripe bananas
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or a mix

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan with non stick spray or oil. In a large bowl, mash the bananas and add the sour cream and sugar. Mix to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, and stir just until combined.  Fold in the berries.

Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting and serving. Serves 8 to 10

 

CORN CAKES WITH BLACKBERRY OR BLUEBERRY SYRUP

Syrup:

1 pint blackberries or blueberries

1 1/2 cups maple syrup

Corncakes:

1 cup flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen or canned

1 1/2 cups milk

2 large eggs

Oil for oiling the griddle

1 cup berries for garnish

To make the blackberry syrup, combine the berries and syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer until the berries have broken down and combined with the syrup, about 5 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and keep it warm.

To make the pancakes, preheat the oven to 200. In a bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a food processor or blender, combine 1 cup of the corn kernels and the milk and process until smooth. Add the eggs and process to combine. Pour the corn mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until smooth. Fold in the remaining corn.

Heat a griddle over high heat until the griddle is very hot and then lightly grease the griddle. Using a ladle use spoon about 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the top of the pancake is covered in bubbles. Flip the pancakes and cook for an additional 1 minute or 2. When cooked place the corn cakes on a cookie sheet and keep warm until the rest of the corn cakes are done. Serve hot with the berry sauce and extra berries. Serves 4 to 6

BLACKEBERRY CHICKEN

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut in half

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 cup of chopped onions

3 tablespoons of raspberry jelly

1/2 to 1 cup fresh blackberries

3 tablespoons of apple cider or rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup whipping cream or non dairy substitute

In a skillet melt the butter or margarine and saute the chicken breasts on one side for about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and add the onion to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes more. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm. Add the jelly, blackberries, and vinegar to the pan and cook, scraping the bottom to remove the pieces that are stuck to the bottom. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes over a high heat to slightly reduce liquid. Reduce the heat, add the cream and whisk to combine. Place the chicken on a serving platter and pour the sauce over chicken and serve. Serves: 4.

BLACKBERRY LIMEADE

3 cups fresh blackberries

7 cups cold water

1 cup sugar

1 cup fresh lime juice

Ice,

In a blender, puree the blackberries with 1 cup of the water. Strain through a fine sieve. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with 1 cup of the water and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes; let cool. In a pitcher, combine the blackberry puree with the sugar syrup, lime juice and the remaining 5 cups of cold water and refrigerate until chilled. Serve in tall glasses over ice. Makes 2 quarts

Note: you can use raspberries or blueberries in place of the blackberries

Modified from a recipe by Martha McGinnis

1 GLASS BLACK AND BLUE SANGRIA

5 blackberries

5 blueberries

1 oz Creme de Cassis (black currants liqueur)

1 glass semi sweet red wine

Crushed ice

Put the ice, blackberries and blueberries into a glass. Add in the Creme de Cassis and red wine.  Mix to combine and serve. Makes 1 glass. This can be doubled or quadrupled.

DELIGHTFULLY STRAWBERRY BUTTER CREAM

You have to use cooked or frozen strawberries for this recipe

8 oz frozen strawberries, defrosted

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups Crisco (10 ounces)

2 pounds of powdered sugar

*Optional 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Strawberry extract for more intense flavor.

In the bowl of an electric mixer mix the butter and the Crisco together until it is totally combines. While the mixer is on low slowly add in the powdered sugar, strawberries, and the extract until everything is combined. Refrigerate for at least one hour before using. If the frosting is too liquidly add more powdered sugar. Too stiff add more strawberries. Makes 2 1/2 cups. .

WATERMELON AND STRAWBERRY LIMEADE

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons lime zest

1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1 pint fresh strawberries, pureed

3 cups watermelon, puréed

1 to 2 liters cold club soda

ice

6 to 10 sliced strawberries for garnish

In a sauce pan combine the sugar, lime zest and water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 3 minutes. Strain the zest out and let cool for about 15 minutes. Pour the sugar water into a pitcher. Add the ice, lime juice, puréed strawberries, watermelon. Add the, club soda and mix to combine. Add the sliced strawberries and serve. Serves 8 to 12 depending on how much club soda you add.

Where do Easter Eggs Come From? Recipes and More (So Not Kosher)r

I have always been fascinated by the origins of foods and food traditions. Have you ever wondered what a bunny that lays eggs has to do with Easter and which came first, the bunny or the egg?

Ancient cultures had an early spring festival celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Theses festivals were held at the time of the first full moon following the vernal equinox. A fertility goddess named Estre was the goddess of offspring and springtime. While many different pagan religions held the same type of festival they all had different names for their fertility goddess. She was known as Ishtar, Ashtoreth and Eostre. It was believed by Babylonian legend that a giant egg fell from heaven and was incubated by doves. This is how the myth of Ashtoreth/Ishtar/Eastre was born. The hare (rabbit) was the symbol of the goddess. The male god of fertility was called Baal. The egg was the symbol of Baal.

Not until 325 A.D. when the Nicean Council declared Easter a religious holiday was it celebrated by Christians. Because the celebration of Eastre and the celebration of the Resurrection fell at the same time of year the Nicean Council declared that the day would be celebrated on the first full moon after the vernal equinox and would be called Easter, instead of Eastre.

According to The Encyclopedia of Religion, 1987 “Easter” “It was a popular Easter custom amongst Europeans and Americans to eat ham at Easter, because the pig was considered a symbol of luck in pre-Christian European culture.” German tradition believed that pigs are symbols of luck. If you had a pig to feed your family you were considered lucky. This is also probably the reasons that people started keeping their money in banks that were shaped like pigs.

Like I said, food plays a prominent role in any holiday, and Easter is no exception. For many Americans, Easter dinner includes a hearty helping of ham. Besides ham, pastries and bread also figure prominently in Easter fare all over the world. In Russiaa paska cake is molded and baked with a cross on each side. In Germanyand Austria, an Easter bread called stollen is baked in twisted or braided strands and  Polandhas the mazurka, a sweet cakes made with honey. Today, hot cross buns, small buns decorated with a sweet icing in the shape of a cross are the American treat associated with Good Friday and Easter.                           The following recipes are perfect for any brunch, lunch or dinner you may have this year. May your table be full of family, friends and the good cheer that always accompanies a gathering of those you love.

HOT CROSS BUNS

 

1/4 cup water – at room temperature or just slightly above

1/2 cup lukewarm milk

1/4 cup melted butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

3-1/2 cups  flour

1/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

pinch of allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup finely chopped, mixed candied fruit

 

glaze

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons water

 

icing

1/2 cup Confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoon water

 

BREAD MACHINE:
Place all the dough ingredients, except the raisins and fruit, in the bread machine pan. Set on the dough only cycle. Add the raisins and candied fruit at the bread machine’s signal for adding extra ingredients. Remove the dough from the bread machine at end of dough cycle. Place it in a bowl, cover with a cloth and let it rest for 10 minutes.

 

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Shape the pieces into balls and place them 3 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm place until almost doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour. Bake in a preheated oven at 375º for 15 to 18 minutes, or until light brown on top. Remove from the oven. Place the baking sheet full of buns on a wire rack to cool. Prepare the glaze, then spread it over the warm buns. Let the buns continue to cool on the baking sheet. When completely cool, fill a cake decorating bag, fitted with a round tip, with icing. Pipe an icing cross on each bun. Or… simply spoon narrow stips of icing, in the shape of a cross, on each bun.

 

MIXER:
Mix the yeast, 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and other spices in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and water together. Combine the dry ingredients mixture, the liquid ingredients, and the butter in a large bowl. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes at medium speed. Add the egg and beat 1 more minute. Stir in the raisins, fruit, and enough of the remaining flour to make a firm dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 to 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Use additional flour if necessary. Place in a lightly greased bowl; turn over to grease the other side of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place. After about 15 minutes, test the dough to see if it has risen sufficiently and is ready to be shaped. To test, gently stick two fingers into the risen dough up to the second knuckle… take them out. If the indentations remain, the dough is ripe and ready. Continue to follow the preparation directions above, from the **.

CLASSIC BAKED SMOKED HAM
1 large smoked ham, about 12 to 18 pounds
whole cloves
3 cups pineapple juice
I pound dark brown sugar
One 16-ounce bottle dark corn syrup

 

Preheat the oven to 325. Place the ham in a shallow roasting pan. Score the fat and stud it completely with cloves. Pour the pineapple juice over the ham and bake for 12 minutes per pound. After 1-1/2 hours, remove the ham from the oven and carefully pat the brown sugar on top, completely covering the top of the ham. Gently pour the corn syrup over the ham, being careful not to disturb the sugar covering. Continue baking, basting every 15 minutes.When ham has baked its allotted time, remove it from oven and continue basting until it is cooled-this gives it a beautiful glaze. The remaining syrup is good over hot sweet potatoes. Serves 12.

 

MAPLE HAM SLICES

1/3 cup Chopped pecans
2 ham slices (about 2 1/2 pounds) (1/2-inch-thick)
1/2 cup Maple syrup
3 tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Butter

 

Bake pecans in a shallow pan at 325, for 8-10 minutes or until toasted; set aside. Bake ham slices in a shallow pan at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Bring maple syrup, sugar, and butter to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring often. Stir in pecans, and spoon over ham. Bake 30 more minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

 

BAKED HAM WITH APPLES

4 to 5 lbs. pre-cooked ham
6 to 7 apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Few drops red food color

 

Preheat oven to 375. Place the ham in a baking dish and cook for 30 minutes. While the ham is cooking combine the apples brown sugar, cinnamon ginger and food coloring in a bowl. Pour the mixture over the ham and bake an additional 30 minutes. Baste every with the mixture every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with sauce. Serves 8 to 10.

 

BONE IN HAM WITH DRIED CHERRIES

 

1 bone-in fully cooked ham, about 9 pounds

2 bottles (12 ounces each) light beer

 

Glaze:

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup cherry preserves

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup dried cherries

 

Sauce:

Cornstarch or arrowroot

Water

 

Remove ham from refrigerator 1 hour before baking. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place ham in a large roasting pan and pour beer over it. Cover and bake 1 hour.  Prepare glaze: While ham is baking, combine honey, cherry preserves and ground cloves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until preserves have melted and glaze is smooth. Stir in dried cherries. After cooking the ham for a little more than an hour, baste with pan juices and spoon about half of the glaze over the ham, cover and continue cooking 20 minutes. Spoon remaining glaze over the ham, and cook another 20 to 30 minutes.

 

Prepare sauce: Remove ham from the pan to a cutting board and cover with foil for 15 minutes. Bring the pan juices to a simmer over two burners. Dissolve cornstarch or arrowroot in cold water (see Kitchen Note) and slowly whisk into liquid. If using cornstarch, cook about 3 to 5 minutes to thicken. Transfer to a bowl and serve with the sliced ham.

.

HAM AND HORSERADISH STUFFED EGGS

 

6 hard-cooked large eggs

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 cup minced cooked ham

1 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons bottled horseradish, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Cut a paper-thin slice off both ends of eggs and halve eggs crosswise. Mash eggs with a fork and stir in remaining ingredients; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer filling to a pastry bag fitted with a large decorative tip and pipe into whites, mounding it. The stuffed eggs may be made 6 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Makes 12 stuffed eggs. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

 

CURRIED STUFFED EGGS

 

6 hard-cooked eggs

1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream

1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet relish

1 green onion, chopped fine

1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoonTabasco

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish: thinly sliced green onion

 

Cut a paper-thin slice off both ends of eggs and halve eggs crosswise. Mash yolks with a fork; stir in remaining ingredients; salt and pepper to taste. Transfer filling to a pastry bag fitted with a large ribbon or other decorative tip and pipe into whites, mounding it. Garnish with sliced green onion. Makes 12 stuffed eggs. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

 

VEGGIE STUFFED EGGS

I find that depending on how juicy the vegetables are, I occasionally need to modify the amount of mayo I add. Start with 3 tablespoons, adding another ½ tablespoon at a time if needed.

 

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
3 to 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sweet red pepper – very finely chopped
1 tablespoon green onion or scallions – finely chopped
1 tablespoon celery – very finely chopped
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Paprika for garnish

 

Cut a paper-thin slice off both ends of eggs and halve eggs crosswise. Mash yolks with a fork; stir in remaining ingredients; Transfer filling to a pastry bag fitted with a large ribbon or other decorative tip and pipe into whites, mounding it.  sprinkle lightly with paprika. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one day before serving. Makes 12 stuffed eggs. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Delicious St. Patty’s Day Recipes (All Irish All Day)

There is one time during the year, and one time only, where I suspend all my ethnic and regional food preferences and embrace all things Irish. I am, of course, referring to the one and only St. Patrick’s Day.

Celebrated annually on March 17 in honor ofIreland’s patron saint this holiday, brings out the Irish in everyone. St. Patrick was born between 370 and 390 C. E. whenRome ruled theBritish Isles. As a missionary he helped convert the Irish to Christianity using a shamrock to explain the Trinity. With immigration from Ireland to the United States one of the best ways to establish a new life Irish nationals have been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day  in the United States back as far as 1737 when Boston held its first St. Patrick’s Day parade.

How all this history translated into the green beer and rivers dyed green and crazy parades we celebrate with today is not for me to speculate on. Suffice it to say, the Irish have their own wonderful food traditions for the day and it behooves all of us to become “just a little Irish” and join the celebration with wonderful food, a few Irish ditties and perhaps a pints or three of ale.

CLASSSIC IRISH SODA BREAD

4 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon caraway Seeds

1 1/2 cups raisins

2   eggs beaten

1 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a loaf pan. Place raisins and caraway seeds in a large bowl. Sift together flour, baking soda, sugar and salt. Pour sifted mixture over raisins. Add butter, eggs and milk to the bowl; mix well. Mold dough into a loaf shape on a floured board. Place dough in greased pan and bake for one hour, or until bread tests done.

RAISIN IRISH SODA BREAD

This version tastes even better the second day and is great for breakfast.

4 1/4 cups flour (up to 4 — 1/2 cups)

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1   teaspoon salt

3   tablespoons sugar

1   tablespoon caraway seeds

1 cup raisins

2 cups buttermilk

butter

sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 9-inch black cast-iron skillet or cake pan and dust with flour. In a large bowl, mix 4 cups of the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and caraway seeds. Add the raisins, mixing them in with your fingers to make sure they are separated. Add the buttermilk to the bowl and mix with a fork until the mixture forms a dough. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup more of the flour on a board or counter. Turn out the dough and knead for about 5 minutes, working in the flour from the board and forming the dough into a smooth round loaf about 8 inches in diameter.  (If the humidity is high and the dough is very sticky, you may need to add another 1/4 cup of flour to the board.)  Press the dough evenly into the prepared skillet or pan and cut a cross 1/2 inch deep across the top. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom.  Remove the loaf to a wire rack and rub the top with butter. Sprinkle with sugar. Let the bread cool completely before slicing. Makes one large loaf.

IRISH COFFEE

4 cups strong fresh coffee

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup Irish whiskey

1 cup   whipping cream

2 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

Place 4 cups of strong fresh coffee in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of sugar, or to taste. Add 1/2 cup Irish whiskey and heat thoroughly but do not boil. (Scotch, Bourbon or other whiskeys could be used.)  Meanwhile whip 1 cup whipping cream until light. Beat in the 2 tablespoons of sugar and Irish whiskey. Pour coffee into mugs or goblets and pipe or spoon flavored cream on top. Serves 4 to 6 depending on the size of the mugs.

CLASSIC CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE

3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet

10 small red potatoes

5 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges

Place corned beef 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. Approx 35 to 45 minutes. 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. Serves 5 to 6

DIJON CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE

2   cups water

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoonsDijonmustard, divided

1 medium cabbage head, cut into 8 wedges

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh dill chopped OR 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

2 1/2 pounds corned beef brisket

Preheat oven to 350. Place the brisket and water in Dutch oven, cover tightly and cook 1 hour (It is very important to simmer the meat slowly because boiling will cause meat to become tough.) Turn brisket over and continue cooking, covered, 1 1/2 to 2 hours more,   or until meat is tender.  Remove brisket from cooking liquid and place,   flat-side up, on rack in broiler pan so surface of meat is 3 to 4 inches from heat. Combine honey with 1 tablespoon mustard; brush half of mixture over top of brisket and broil 3 minutes.  Brush with remaining mixture and continue broiling 2 minutes, or until brisket is glazed.  Meanwhile, steam cabbage 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.  Combine remaining

mustard with butter and dill; spread over hot cabbage wedges.  Carve

brisket diagonally across the grain into thin slices and serve with

cabbage.

JAMES BEARD’S IRISH STEW

Proper Irish stew is made with lamb, however, beef may be substituted if you must. Plan ahead to make the lamb stock a day in advance. I have used beef and beef broth and it comes out quite nicely.

3 to 3-1/2 pounds lamb shoulder

1 pound neck of lamb

2 quarts water

1 medium onion stuck with 2 cloves

1 large bay leaf

2 large garlic cloves

1 Tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon thyme

Parsley sprig

3 thinly sliced medium onions

3 leeks split in half and cut in small dice

Additional bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

4 medium potatoes, finely diced

2 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Preparation:

Have the butcher bone the lamb shoulder and give you the bones.

Put the bones and neck in a deep saucepan with 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil and boil 5 to 6 minutes, skimming off the scum from the surface. Add the onion stuck with cloves, and the bay leaf, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and parsley. Bring to a boil again, reduce the heat to simmer, and simmer 2 to 2-1/2 hours to a strong broth. Strain, and put in the refrigerator overnight. Next day, skim off the fat.

Remove all fat from the lamb shoulder and cut the meat into pieces 1 inch wide and 2 inches long. Put the meat in a heavy pan with the sliced onions, leeks, additional bay leaf and thyme, nutmeg, and enough lamb broth to come 1 inch above the meat. Bring to a boil, skim off the scum, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, 1 hour, then test the meat for tenderness. If it still seems a bit tough, give it another 15 minutes, then add the diced potatoes. Cook 30 minutes, until the stew is slightly thickened by the potatoes, then taste for seasoning. You will probably find it needs salt — 1 to 2 teaspoons should be sufficient — a few grinds of pepper, and a touch of nutmeg. Let this cook a little to blend with the stew, then add the chopped parsley and cook just 1 minute more. Serves 6 to 8

From James Beard’s American Cookery by James Beard (Galahad Books)

IRISH WHISKEY CAKE

2 cups golden raisins

3 tablespoons grated lemon zest

1/4 cup whiskey

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

3 egg yolks

3 egg whites

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 lemon, juiced

Place the raisins, lemon rind, and whiskey in a small bowl and let them soak overnight. Line bottom of an eight-inch square cake pan with parchment paper that is buttered and dusted with flour. Preheat the oven to 350. Sift the flour, salt, cloves and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat well. Quickly beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the soaked raisins. In a separate clean bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the mixture. Pour this into your prepared pan and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake thoroughly on a wire rack. To make the glaze: Mix the lemon juice with the sifted powdered sugar and just enough whiskey and warm water so that you can drizzle icing over the cake.

Serves 8 to 10.

Asparagus and Artichoke/ Spring has Sprung Recipes

Every spring as I start to approach that dreaded day, (no, not April 15 or the last day of school 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 column relating to nervous breakdowns).
I look back at all the candy bar breakfasts, french fry and or pizza lunches, and milk shake and corn chip dinners that I snarfed my way through this last winter and I think, “WAS I OUT OF MY MIND?!?”
I know, that unlike my sister Lois, who’s mottos is “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, I know that the 2 vegetables that I love the most but ignore most of the year because they’re SOOOOOO expensive can be mine at bargain prices (rain, floods and other natural disasters inCalifornia not with standing). Every produce section I’ve visited in the last few weeks has been full to overflowing with my produce pals the Artichoke and Asparagus.

For inquiring minds the artichoke is a native of theMediterranean. It’s also a perennial in the thistle group of the sunflower (Compositae) family. The “vegetable” that we eat is actually the plant’s flower bud. The Asparagus is a member of the Lily family and its spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils.

When choosing an artichoke it should look compact, (not necessarily small) plump, have the leaves tightly packed and have an even green color overall. The asparagus should have firm stems, tight closed leaves at the end and should be a bright green. (If you’re lucky enough to find the white variety of asparagus grab it quickly. It’s very difficult to find in the United States. It may cost a small fortune but once you taste it you’ll be forever hooked.

BASIC COOKING INSTRUCTIONS
If the asparagus is more than 1/4 inch thick, peel it if you like. Snap or trim the bottom base off (about 1 inch from the bottom) and rinse. Gently steam or boil the asparagus until it’s crisp tender. Serve immediately if you wish to serve it hot. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process if you wish to serve it cold. You can also roast it with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Serve it crisp tender, hot, warm or room temperature.
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.

 

Now is the time to grab these first offerings of spring and go for the gusto.

SESAME ASPARAGUS
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into thirds
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted*

Cook asparagus in a large pot or frying pan of boiling water till crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes.  Drain and rinse asparagus under cold water.  Drain well.

Heat vegetable oil in  a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bell pepper and stir 1 minute.  Add asparagus and sauté till heated through, about 2 minutes.  Add soy sauce and sesame oil.  Toss till asparagus and bell pepper are coated.  Transfer to platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

* To toast sesame seeds, place them in a toaster oven on a metal pan and toast 1-2 cycles, till lightly browned and popping.  Alternatively, place in a frying pan over medium heat and cook, stirring, till lightly browned and popping. Serves 4.

 

FETTUCCINI WITH SMOKED SALMON AND ASPARAGUS

8- to 9-oz dried egg fettuccine
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon drained bottled horseradish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
6 to 8 oz smoked salmon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide ribbons

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package instructions. Add asparagus to pot for last 3 minutes of pasta-cooking time.
While asparagus is boiling, heat cream, horseradish, and dill in a large skillet over moderate heat just until hot, about 1 minute. Drain pasta and asparagus and add to cream mixture, tossing. Gently toss in salmon and season with salt and pepper. Serves 6

For a lighter sauce, you can replace 1/3 cup of the cream with an equal amount of the pasta-cooking water

From  Epicurious.com

ASPARAGUS PASTA SALAD

4 ounces uncooked pasta, bow tie style
1/2 half pound of asparagus spears, cut up, steamed crisp tender
1/2 cup shredded carrots
4 teaspoons chopped green onions
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 to 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Herb Vinaigrette
salad greens
4 hard cooked eggs cut into quarters

 

Vinaigrette:

2/3 cup wine vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in cold water and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the pasta, asparagus, carrot, green onions and cheeses. Add the dressing and toss lightly. Spoon onto salad greens and garnish with egg quarters.  Serves 8.

 

For the vinaigrette: combine all the ingredients in a jar with lid and shake well. Makes 1 1/3 cups

SMOKED WHITE FISH AND ASPARAGUS SALAD

12 new potatoes cut in half or quarters depending on their size
1 pound asparagus, cooked crisp tender and cooled and cut in 1/3’s
1 pound smoked white fish, broken into small pieces
1 head shredded red leaf lettuce
4 to 5 hard cooked eggs
2 to 3 tomato cut into wedges
2/3 cup tarragon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leave
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in boiling water until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and set aside.   Combine the vinegar, oil tarragon, bay leaf, garlic and salt and pepper in a jar with a lid and shake well. While the potatoes are still slightly warm slice them and arrange them in the bottom of a shallow dish. Add the asparagus. Remove the bay leaf from the dressing and drizzle 1/4 of the dressing over the asparagus and potatoes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. To serve place the lettuce on the serving plate and arrange the marinated vegetables on top. Then place the white fish chunks, tomatoes wedges and egg wedges on the top. Drizzle the remaining dressing on the top. Serves 8

ORANGEAND ARTICHOKE SALAD

6  cooked artichoke hearts
1/2 tablespoon margarine
1 garlic clove
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

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.

TICKLISH 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.

 

BABY ARTICHOKE CHICKEN SAUTE

 

16 baby artichokes

1/4 cup olive oil

4 half chicken breasts, skinned, boned and cut into chunks

2 red or yellow onions, sliced thick

4 cloves garlic minced

1 tablespoon each chopped fresh basil and rosemary or 1 teaspoon each dried

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 pound fettuccine, cooked and drained

Prepare artichokes as directed (see Basic Preparation); cut into halves. Brown chicken in large skillet with 2 tablespoons oil.  Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and saute the onions until tender. Add the artichokes to the skillet with garlic, basil and rosemary. Cook until artichokes are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in browned chicken and drizzle with chicken broth; heat thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve over hot fettuccine. Makes 4 servings. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Beer Recipes Just in Time for St. Patrick’s Day /some kosher recipes

Despite what some party hardy leprechauns may think, on St. Patrick’s Day, all beers are not created equal and not all dishes made with beer are really a good idea. It takes research, taste tasting (lots and lots and lots of taste tasting) and really good recipes to assimilate beer into your menu and make the dish better than the sum of its parts. With a little help from yours truly, I aim to make this the best culinary St. Patrick’s Day ever (if you were expecting corn beef recipes, sorry).

If you are already a “let’s try anything as an ingredient kind of cook”, then you already know that beer can be used in just about every method of cooking know to man. You can use it when baking, braising, in batters for frying, sauces, marinating, poaching and even glazing. However, knowledge about what beer is and what its complex mix of flavors can do to other ingredients is what’s key to making a so so recipe really terrific.

Beers fall into three different categories: lagers, ales (the difference between them is the type of yeast used in fermentation) and specialty beers. The four main ingredients for most beers are water, malted barley (or wheat), hops and yeast. Ales are usually higher in alcohol content and have a more complex flavor. Lagers are usually lighter in color and can be somewhat drier than ale. In specialty beers, just about everything but the kitchen sink goes. I’ve seen brewer’s use, chocolate (pretty good), pumpkin (really yucky), fruit juices (the jury is still out), candy, and just about anything else you can think of. The specialty beers I drink on a dare, I don’t cook with them.

Beer can be used in marinades to tenderize meat as well as with sweeter vegetables like onions, carrots and corn. It gives them an earthier flavor but you may need to add just a touch of sugar or honey to the vegetable dish to counteract the bitter component of the beer. The yeast in beers is also terrific when used as a leavening agent in baking or in batters.

So what type of beer works best (for cooking, and not just drinking)? I suggest you start with pale ale, for my money it’s the most adaptable for most of the following recipes.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

NOTE: For those of you who don’t imbibe alcohol you can utilize the non alcohol types of beers and get pretty much the same results

 

BEER MARINADE

This marinade is great for grilling chicken, beef and seafood.

 

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup onion, chopped

1 red pepper, diced fine

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons Worcestershire or soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

8 ounces beer

2 tablespoons black pepper

Juice of 6 limes

 

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.   Process until smooth. Makes a generous 2 cups of marinade

 

BEER AND CHEESE SOUP (not kosher)

12 ounces beer (a lighter beer works best)
8 slices bacon or or turkey bacon (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced red pepper
1 10-1/2 ounce can condensed chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup flour
1 cup half and half
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Open beer and let stand while dicing vegetables. Sauté bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. In large soup kettle, sauté vegetables in two tablespoons of bacon grease until soft. Add chicken broth. Fill chicken can with beer and add to mixture. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low.
Pour remaining beer into a small mixing bowl and whisk in flour. Gradually add to broth, stirring constantly, till thick. Add half and half, bacon and cheese. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Submitted and modified by Carrie Sneiger Lake Forest IL

ALE APPLE FRITTERS

 

12 ounces amber ale
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 1/2 cups oil
8 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/3-inch thick rings (Granny Smith are best) soaked in ice water till ready to use, then pat dry.
sugar and cinnamon mixture for dusting

 

In a large bowl, whisk together ale, flour, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and melted butter. Set the mixture aside. Pour oil to deep Dutch oven cast-iron frying pan. Heat the oil to about 350 -360. Dip the dried apple rings into the batter and coat them evenly. Fry the apple rings in small batches. Turn once to cook evenly. Skim the extra pieces out of the oil and add more oil as needed. Be sure to keep the oil hot. Let the cooked apple fritters drain on paper towel for a few minutes then sprinkle them with the cinnamon sugar mixture and serve. Serves 8.

 

Modified from cookingwithbeer.com

 

RIBS IN BEER

 

6 to 8 boneless ribs, cut away excess fat

salt and pepper

2 onions, chopped

2/3 cup hickory brown sugar barbeque sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon mustard

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup beer

 

Salt and pepper both sides of the ribs. Spread the chopped onions over bottom of a roasting pan or crock pot. Put the meat on top of the onions. In a bowl combine the beer, ketchup, mustard, pepper flakes, brown sugar and barbeque sauce and mix to combine. Pour the mixture over the meat, cover and cook in the oven for 350 for 4 to 5 hours or in the crock pot on high for 4 to 5 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours. To serve place the meat on a serving platter and cover. Let liquid sit for a few minutes, skim off the fat and then pour the gravy over the top. The gravy will be kind of thin so you can thicken it with a little cornstarch and cold water mixed together added to the gravy and heated for 2 minutes. Serves 4.

 

BEER AND LIME CHICKEN

 

2 whole chickens (about 4lbs total)

1 tablespoon salt, or to taste

1 tablespoon black pepper, or to taste

1 1/2 to 2 limes, halved

1 can beer

Paprika to taste

1-1/3 cups water

1 lb baby carrots

 

Preheat the oven to 350. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from the limes over the whole chicken, and then place the squeezed halves into the cavity of the chickens. Pour 1/2 of the beer into the chicken and the place the chicken on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Pour the remaining beer over the top of the chicken and then pour the water into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the top of the chicken lightly with paprika and a little more salt and pepper. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour. Remove the foil, add the carrots to the bottom of the pan, baste with the juice in the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle a little paprika on the carrots and cook an additional 30 minutes, basting occasionally. To Serve, remove the chickens from the oven, let set for 3 minutes and then cut them into quarters. Place the carrots on a serving platter, place the chicken quarters on top and serve with the sauce on the side. Serves 8.

QUICK SELF RISING BEER BREAD

I’ve had this recipe forever and my kids love it

 

3 cups self-rising flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese

6 to 8  green onions, chopped

12 ounces beer

 

Preheat oven to 350 and REALLY grease the bottom and all the sides of a loaf pan. Set it aside In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and sugar together. Add the cheese and chopped green onions. Mix to combine. Add the beer and mix until the ingredients are combined but be careful to not over mix. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to a 1 hour, or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow sound when thumped. Cool on a rack and then serve. This can be made up to a month in advance and frozen. Makes 1 loaf

Never Too Late for Valentine’s Day Chocolate Recipes

 

Chocolate has been the “high priestess” of aphrodisiacs since it was discovered over 3,000 years ago inMexico.  Montezuma (of the don’t drink the water fame) would drink 50 goblets of a chocolate drink a day to give himself stamina to handle his harem of over 600 women.

So with my quantum leap of food logic I say what better way to say I love you on Valentines Day than giving or serving chocolate (for breakfast lunch AND dinner).

Hold on a second before you go rushing out to buy DeBrands, Godiva, Ghirardelli, Hershey’s or even Nestles. You need to know a little bit about the chocolate you’re about to use or eat. Not all chocolate or cocoa is created equally. Different recipes call for different types of chocolate.
Unsweetened or baking chocolate is simply cooled, hardened chocolate liquor. It is used primarily as an ingredient in recipes, or as a garnish. Semi-sweet chocolate is also used primarily in recipes. It has extra cocoa butter and sugar added. Sweet cooking chocolate is basically the same, with more sugar for taste. Milk chocolate is chocolate liquor with extra cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla added. Milk chocolate is the most popular form for chocolate. Cocoa is chocolate liquor with most of the cocoa butter removed, creating a fine powder. Each form of chocolate can create a different taste so make sure you’ve got the right ingredient for your recipe.

White chocolate is somewhat of a misnomer. In theUnited States, in order to be legally called ‘chocolate’ a product must contain cocoa solids. Most of the stuff you get in the market place today does not contain these solids so technically it’s not really chocolate. Real white chocolate is primarily cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla.

Chocolate in its many forms is always welcome as an expression of love. The making or serving the following recipes won’t guarantee the love will be returned but they could give you a shot a few extra brownie points.
CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES

1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 bars (1.5 ounces each) Dark Chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Coarse sugar

 

In bowl of a food processor, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Pulse until well blended. Add butter chunks and process for a few seconds, just until butter is size of peas. Transfer mixture to large bowl and stir in sugar.

In small bowl, whisk together heavy cream, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour cream mixture over dry ingredients. Add chopped chocolate and stir to form dough. Knead dough lightly in bowl about 10 times. Transfer dough onto lightly floured work surface and shape into 8-inch round disc. Transfer round to plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Remove dough from refrigerator and cut round into 8 wedges. Transfer scones to ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until set. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Or serve slightly warm. Makes 8

 

Modified from epicurious.com

CHOCOLATE CREPES

2/3 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon unsweetened chocolate powder

1 egg

1 egg white

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup milk

strawberries or raspberries or sorbet

 

Mix all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add all liquid ingredients and stir until batter is smooth and creamy.  Let batter rest in the refrigerator until the air is settled, about 2 hours. When ready to prepare crepes, heat crepe pan over medium heat and pour 1/3 to 1/4 cup of the batter into hot pan. Rotate pan until batter is cooked through and then turn to cook the other side. When done remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Store until ready to serve. May be made one to two days ahead of time. Fill with berries, sorbet. Serves 2.

CHOCOLATE WAFFLES

This recipe is a fun way to portion out cake mix into individual servings much like cupcakes, but with a much quicker bake time.

 

1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup of boiling water

2 cups of flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup of softened butter

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

 

In a bowl whisk together the cocoa and boiling water. Allow to cool to room temperature before using. In another bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add 2 large eggs to the butter mixture, stirring between each egg to combine thoroughly. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the cocoa water mixture to the butter mixture, stirring until just mixed. Batter may be stored in the refrigerator until needed. Makes 4 waffles.

 

CHOCOLATE FRENCH TOAST PUFF

This recipe should be started the night before you want to serve it as it has to sit for at last 4 to 5 hours before you cook it.
12 slices white bread, crusts removed
2 cups skim milk, divided
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 eggs
2 cups half and half

Topping
3/4 cup butter, very soft or melted
1 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flaked coconut
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
Whipped cream or maple syrup, optional
Generously grease a 9×13 baking dish that is at least 2 inches deep. Arrange trimmed bread slices on bottom of pan in 2 layers. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup milk, chocolate chips and sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until chips are melted and sugar is dissolved. Do not let mixture come to a boil. Stir in vanilla. Let cool. In a large bowl, beat eggs, remaining milk and half and half. Mix chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Pour over bread slices. Cover pan tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. In the morning, remove from refrigerator and prepare topping.

 

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, walnuts, coconut and dark corn syrup. Spread or spoon the topping over the bread slices. Bake, uncovered, 1 hour or until center is set. If edges are browning to fast, cover with foil. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes or so until cool enough to spoon or slice. Top with whipped cream or syrup, if desired. Serves 8

 

CHOCOLATE ORANGE BREAKFAST DRINK

 

1 orange – peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

1 cup cold milk

1 cup crushed ice

 

Combine orange pieces, chocolate syrup, milk, and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve. Makes 1 serving

 

COLOSSAL CHOCOLATE CINNAMON ROLLS

2 loaves (1 pound each) frozen white yeast bread dough, thawed, divided

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups semi sweet or milk chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans, divided

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons milk
Grease two 9-inch-round baking pans. Roll out 1 bread loaf into 16 x 10-inch rectangle on lightly floured surface. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle 2 tablespoons over dough leaving 1/2-inch border around sides. Sprinkle with 1 cup morsels and 1/2 cup nuts. Roll up the dough starting at short end; seal edges. Cut into 6 slices; place cut side up in prepared baking pan. Repeat with remaining bread loaf, sugar mixture, morsels and nuts; place in second prepared baking pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until dough almost fills pans. Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool slightly in pans on wire racks. In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar and milk and mix into a stiff glaze. Drizzle over warm cinnamon rolls. Serves 10 to 12.

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

 

3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup oil

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 can of pumpkin (1 pound)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

3 cup of flour

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

8-12 oz. chocolate chips (miniature or regular)

 

Preheat oven to 375. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the sugar, oil, eggs, Mix to combine. Mix dry ingredients separately; then add slowly to wet ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Grease muffin pan and fill cups 2/3 full. For full size muffins bake 20 to 25 minutes. For mini muffins bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes 12.

 

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