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Am still reading The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. Oh my. This book has so many layers: (1) the young, impoverished couple and their infant son who live, literally, in a dump in Cambodia and about the precarious structure, if you can even call it that, that comprises their “house” in the midst and perched on top of trash; (2) the woman who collects the rent (hence the title and yes, people have to PAY to live there); (3) the young son’s chronic illness; (4) how they make a living out of collecting and selling trash; and (4) the life saving grace and wisdom imparted by characters in the book as the young mother begins to learn to read. If you decide to read this book, please don’t stop at about page 15-20, thinking you just don’t know if you want to read about this. Please continue. It’s so worth it. Have a highlighter pen in your hand because you’ll find so many quotes you will want to remember. Believe it or not, there is also quite a bit in this about literature.

Recently finished C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel). I just love Box’s novels. They take place in present day semi-wild west, and chronicle the fish and game warden, Joe Pickett, as he unravels another crime in his territory. A woman has disappeared, and the governor has asked him to figure it out. He does, but the tale meanders through multiple layers of intriguing story. His books are riveting. Men and women enjoy his books – so if you have a fellow in your life or family that would enjoy an intriguing book (this is not espionage) then gift him one of Box’s books.

Also finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. About a dysfunctional family, through and through. I picked this up from amazon from someone who read the book, named “McReader,” and she says: “Set in the 70s, the story follows a Chinese American blended family in Ohio. When Lydia [the daughter] is found floating in the lake, her family is forced to analyze what put her there. Was it pressure from her family to succeed? Was it pressure to fit in? Was it a crime of passion or convenience? I was spellbound reading the last half of this book. I loved each flawed family member, especially Hannah,. While the story went where I hoped it would go, I was not disappointed at all with the progression. It was also quite insightful on the prejudices that society had about Chinese Americans still during that timeframe and how careful parents have to be to put their dreams onto their children.” Such a good book and definitely worth reading. Would be a good book club read. You’ll be hearing more from this author. Am currently reading her next novel, Little Fires Everywhere.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant. A very, very intriguing book. The book is written from the voice of a Jewish grandmother as she tells her granddaughter the saga of her life starting about 1910, who struggles with her own individuality, with her domineering mother who never says a kind word to her. It’s certainly a coming-of-age story as she grows up, finds a job, makes friends, joins a literary girls club, moves out, but still suffers under her mother’s thumb and tongue. She becomes a reporter on a local newspaper, which opens her eyes to more of the world than she ever knew. She finally meets the right man (of course!) and she shares the stories about her life, and her friends and family members as she grows up, giving some sage advice along the way. Part of the time she’s talking to herself – to her young self  (really wanting to tell young Addie to keep on, forgive herself for her perceived transgressions, to live life, and experience the world).

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time – Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Rivers is a prodigious writer of Christian fiction, and I’d never read anything by her until now. As I write this, I’ve already read this, another one (below) and just purchased the Kindle trilogy called Mark of the Lion (Vol 1-3) that I haven’t yet started. (Two of my friends have said the trilogy is her best.) Redeeming Love details the fictional story of a godly man, Michael Hosea, forging his way in the era of the Gold Rush. He’s “driven” to rescue a beautiful prostitute who lives and works her trade in a nearby town. The entire book is about the story, the rescue, and it parallels a bit of scripture about Hosea who rescues a prostitute names Gomer. You get into the heads of both Hosea and the prostitute, named Angel. We read this for one of my book groups. A great read.

As soon as I finished the above book I promptly visited my church library and found a whole shelf of Rivers’ books, and grabbed one called The Atonement Child. This book takes place in the 1980s or 90s, about a young college student who is raped. She was engaged to be married, was a stellar student. The book chronicles what happens to her when she discovers she is pregnant from the rape. Every possible thing goes wrong in her life. I don’t want to spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it, but I couldn’t put it down. I ended up spending a good part of a day plowing through it. You hear her inner voice (I’m guessing this is a common thread in Rivers’ books) from a Christian perspective. Lots of meaty issues to discuss in a book club if your group would be interested and willing to talk about rape, abortion, adoption and the thorny issues surrounding all of those things, but with a Christian bent, for sure.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen. It’s kind of amazing how many and varied plot lines can be created from events of WWII. This is another one, about a current day woman who finds papers in the attic, after her father’s death, with references to “the child.” She never knew her father could have had another child – could she have a step-sibling somewhere? Her father she knew, had been shot down over Italy, but he never talked much about it. But of course, she must go to Italy to find out about this “child.” The book flips back and forth from this daughter on the search, to her father during the war, all of it taking place in a very small town in Tuscany. It’s about the varied people she meets who want her to go away and not dredge up anything about the war years (are they hiding something, you question), about how much she loves the landscape, and some of the people. And about the intense love affair between the injured pilot and a caring woman of the village. Very charming story. I could almost smell the flowers, taste the olives, hear the bees flitting, and loved the prose about the simple meals that were described. I really enjoyed the book. Perhaps not enough meat for a book club read, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading it nonetheless.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Almost a page turner. When one uses the phrase “coming of age,” it usually means (I think) love and loss/boyfriend/girlfriend, and in this case it’s somewhat that way. When Ethan, a 17-year old boy and his mother come home unexpectedly to find dad and his young secretary in a compromising position, all hell breaks loose. Separation happens instantly and just as his father moves out, his mother has to go take care of her aging mother. Ethan’s too young to be left in the NYC apartment alone, so Mom sends son to the father who is escaping from the world in Wyoming, living in a primitive A-frame house, and continuing his daily 20+ mile running journeys. Ethan and his father are barely speaking. They live in the middle of nowhere. Ethan feels betrayed by his father in every possible way, and somewhat by his mother for forcing him to live with his father for a temporary period. Then his father doesn’t return one day from his run. The authorities do a cursory search, but they are under the impression the dad wants to “get lost” on purpose. Ethan, although he thinks he doesn’t care, really does. What happens next is best left to you reading this book. Very interesting people (kind of loners) enter the picture and off they go to search. So worth reading.

The Girl With No Name by Diney Costelhoe. What a good book. Perhaps you’ve read before about the huge numbers of German refugee children who were sent to England before Hitler closed down any exits. This is a novel about one particular young girl, who is devastated when her mother puts her on one of the boats. She ends up in London, in an orphanage kind of place, and is eventually placed with a childless couple. She speaks no English. They speak no German, but they manage soon enough. Lisa (who eventually becomes Charlotte) is so homesick. She’s bullied at school, because most people and children don’t want any Germans there. A boy steps up to protect her, and as she grows up, she’s attracted to him. She shouldn’t be – he’s also German and from her own home town. He’s not a good match for her. You live with her through the blitz during all those war years and during one attack, she’s badly injured and loses her memory (and no ID on her). Through a series of mishaps she ends up in a village far from London, with a spinster woman who does eventually come to love her very much – they name her Charlotte and Charlotte she becomes. She goes to school there, still longing, though, for her mother and brother and her London foster family too. Then when she’s 16 she returns to London to help at the orphanage where she was originally placed and tries to find her foster parents. The story goes on from there, with the boy/man who “wants” her, the bad boy, and a good boy/man she befriends in the village in the country. Eventually she regains her memory. SUCH a good read.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee. If you, like me, know little about North Korea and how it came to be what it is today, you’ve got to read this book. It’s a memoir written by a young woman who escaped from North Korea about 9 years ago. Her journey – and I mean JOURNEY – is harrowing, frightening, amazing, heart-rendering all at the same time. She chronicles the lives of the Kims (Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il to current Kim Jong Un), shares the strict propaganda that surrounds every North Korean citizen, the poverty and hunger, as well as the underground black market for food and goods. It took her awhile to get from North Korea, to China and eventually to South Korea, where she currently lives. She’s well educated and speaks English quite well. She was invited to be a speaker at a TED talk – you know about those, right? TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization which posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” I listen to them as  podcasts now and then. Always very educational, if sometimes over my head when it gets very technical. She works diligently for human rights now, doing her best to help other North Koreans escape. You owe it to yourself to read this book.

Also just finished reading The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. Another WOW book. I’ve always liked the author – many years ago I read his book, Midwives and really liked it. Don’t confuse this book with the one I recently read, The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas that I reviewed recently. I think we read it in one of my book groups. He’s a brilliant writer, and this one has a lot of characters and twists. It’s a novel, but based on a lot of truth regarding the Armenian genocide. Most of the book takes place in Aleppo, Syria with some good Samaritan folk trying to help rescue people (mostly children) following the forced long marches the Turks made prodding the Turkish Armenians to exit their country. But it also jumps to near present day as a family member is trying to piece together obscure parts of her grandparents’ former lives there. She uncovers some hidden truths (many survivors of the genocide never-ever-ever wanted to talk about it) and a bit more about her Armenian heritage. A riveting book – I could hardly put it down. Lots to discuss for a book club read. I simply must read more of Bohjalian’s books (he’s written many).

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke. All I can say is “wow.” In a general sense, this book is based on the premise of The Pilot’s Wife. But this one has some totally different twists and turns. A young wife is met at the door by police, informing her that her husband has died in an auto accident. Then she finds out he died in Hawaii – not Kansas, where she thought he was, on business. Then she finds out there was a woman in the car. Then she meets the fiance of the woman passenger and the two of them embark on a fact-finding mission in Hawaii to discover the truth. Well, I’m just sayin’ . . . the plot thickens. And thickens. And thickens clear up to the last few pages. Hang onto your seat. A really, really good, suspenseful read.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. What a WONDERFUL book. It opens up a shameful part of America’s past, but one you might not have heard about before this. In the late 1800s thousands of Chinese workers were brought to the West Coast to help with a variety of construction projects and a myriad of other things where laborers were needed. Many settled, married and made a new life for themselves. But suddenly the white population didn’t want them here anymore and they summarily ordered them ALL out of our country. This book chronicles a young Chinese girl, who was on a ship that was supposed to take her family to China, but the ship’s captain decided en route to dump them all overboard, to drown. The girl’s father knew it was going to happen and in order to save her, he threw his daughter off the ship as they were passing Orcas Island (in the San Juan Islands west of Seattle). She was saved. The book switches from that time to current time as a woman is rebuilding her family’s home on Orcas and finds a beautifully embroidered silk Chinese robe sleeve hidden under a stair step. The book is about that sordid past and the young girl’s descendents, and about the woman who is rebuilding. Stunner of a novel. Good for a book club read, I think. It has a reader’s guide at the back with good questions for book groups.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively. I find it hard to describe this book – it’s wonderful. I loved it. But describing it is perplexing. The title relates to one of the characters, a woman of a certain age, who is mugged, and has to go live with her daughter and son in law for awhile since she’s stuck with crutches and has mobility problems. That starts the cavalcade of events that spread around her, with the characters. And she knows nothing whatsoever about them, hardly. They’re all somewhat inter-related (not much family, but mostly by circumstance) and they all get into some rather logical and some peculiar relationships. You engage  with each and every one of them; at least I sure did; and was trying to tell some of them to back away from what they were about to do. Or “be careful;” or “don’t go there.” That kind of thing. There is nothing insidious, no mystery involved – it’s all about these people and what happens to them. I was sad when the book was finished. The author, Lively, does add a chapter at the end – I wonder if it wasn’t part of the master plan – that kind of tidies up everything, and you get to see all of the characters move on with their lives, happy or not, but mostly happy. Really enjoyed the book. Am not sure it would be a good book club read, as the only thing to discuss are the characters themselves. Lively paints these characters well; you can just picture them as they get themselves in and out of relationship mischief.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Desserts, on June 19th, 2018.

almond_ricotta_cake_slice

Really tasty cake made with mostly almonds (with a little bit of flour), lemon juice and ricotta cheese. Not a light and airy cake, this, but loaded with flavor. Sublime with the whipped cream and berries on top.

The leavening in this cake comes from the egg yolks and egg whites. I wish I were enough of an adventurous baker to fiddle with this recipe and reduce the amount of butter in it. Two cubes. That’s a lot, but then, it serves 12 people, so I suppose you’re not really getting all that much butter in each slice.

The cake requires a 10-inch springform pan, and it’s a bit of a fuss to butter it first, then line it with parchment, and then butter the parchment. You need to do this to assure that the cake will not stick. The blanched almonds are coarsely ground up in a food processor with a bit of sugar, then combined with the minor amount of flour and lemon zest. The butter and sugar are mixed up in a stand mixer (or hand held), then yolks added and you fold in the almond mixture.. The ricotta is mixed lightly with a fork along with the lemon juice, just to make it a bit more pliable. That’s folded into the almond cake mixture. Lastly the egg whites are whipped to soft peaks and folded in as well. Finally that’s all put into the springform pan and baked about 40 minutes.

almond_ricotta_cake_wholeIdeally, serve this cake warm, and with the lightly sweetened whipped cream, and with the lovely fresh berries on the side. And a sprig of mint if you have some.

What’s GOOD: the texture of the cake is slightly crunchy – not majorly crunchy, but a little crunchy. The cake is very sweet (I think n ext time I’d reduce the sugar by a little bit). Overall, though, this is a wonderfully tasting cake. Very different than a traditional light and airy cake. This isn’t, but it still fabulous!

What’s NOT: only that it has a bunch of steps to making it, but none take a lot of time. Worth doing, I think.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Almond, Lemon and Ricotta Cake with Berries and Cream

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 12

2 1/2 cups almonds — sliced, blanched
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup unsalted butter — yes, that’s the right amount
1 cup sugar
6 large eggs — separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese — full fat
TOPPINGS:
1/2 cup cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla sifted powdered sugar to garnish
1 cup berries
mint leaves for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter a 10-inch springform pan and line it with parchment (on the bottom). Butter parchment. In food processor combine coarsely chopped almonds with 2 T of the sugar (taken from the 1-cup measure). Combine with flour and zest.
2. Beat butter with remaining amount in the 1-cup measure of sugar in a mixer until it turns light and pale. Add yolks one by one. Fold into the almond mixture.
3. Put ricotta cheese in a bowl and lightly beat with a fork. Add lemon juice. In another bowl beat the egg whites with the 2 T of sugar and beat until soft peaks. Fold the ricotta mixture into the almond mixture. Gently fold in the beaten whites.
4. Spread mixture in prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes until lightly browned on top. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove the springform ring. Dust with powdered sugar. Whip cream with sugar and vanilla and serve lapped onto the cake and garnish with fresh berries.
Per Serving: 516 Calories; 39g Fat (66.0% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 169mg Cholesterol; 66mg Sodium.

Posted in Pork, Veggies/sides, on June 16th, 2018.

roast_pork_tenderl_carrot_romesco

Simple spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, but served with luscious cooked carrots. Who knew they could taste so good when roasted? You may want to make these again and again. Then there’s the grits, creamy with smoked Gouda. And then there’s the salad too, with a sherry and honey mustard vinaigrette.

Pork tenderloin is something I cook for myself now and then. I probably should buy one, cut it in half and freeze the other half because one pork tenderloin (at least the Costco ones) are big – usually enough for 4 meals for me. Maybe even 5 if I don’t dole out too much on any one serving. And by day three, I’m tired of pork tenderloin! But this meal, this pork tenderloin is merely a way to eat the scrumptious carrots on top, the creamy grits with Gouda and the lovely green salad on the side. I’m telling you true, your fork is going to want all of those carrots to the exclusion of everything else on the plate.

The carrots, scrubbed and halved, are roasted for 15-20 minutes in a hot-hot oven, sprinkled with some kind of various spice rub (your choice). Once cooled, you whiz some of them up with pine nuts and olive oil to make the Romesco part. The remaining carrots are served in the salad. The pork is seasoned with the same spice rub, browned on the stove, then finished off in the oven.

Meanwhile, you make the grits – using a combination of broth and milk to make them creamy, then at the last, add in the Gouda (did you know it’s pronounced gow-da? not goo-da, as we do?) and serve it right away while it’s still piping hot. When I make this, I use regular Gouda, not smoked. I’m not a big fan of smoked cheeses for some reason – I like the pure stuff, but suit your own palate. Place the pork tenderloin slices napped over the edge of the grits and top with the Romesco carrots.

carrot_watercress_salad_alongside_pork_tenderloinYou will have tossed up a lovely green salad too (adding arugula for sure, maybe even watercress or some other unusual greens if you can find them), toss with the sherry wine vinegar vinaigrette and the remaining carrots, and that’s dinner. The recipes came from a cooking class a couple of months ago with Tarla Fallgatter. I was still eating some carbs then, so I can attest to the deliciousness of those carrots. Now I’m only eating raw carrots.

What’s GOOD: well, the carrots Romesco are the best part of this dish in my opinion, but the grits are good, as is the pork AND the lovely greens on the side. Altogether great meal – would definitely be suitable for a company dinner.

What’s NOT: maybe a bit more prep than some meals.

Pork Tenderloin: printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Carrot Romesco

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

CARROTS:
1 1/2 pounds carrots — small, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon spice rub — (your choice)
Salt and pepper to taste
ROMESCO:
1/4 cup pine nuts — toasted
1 clove garlic
1 pinch red chili flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
PORK:
2 pork tenderloins — silverskin removed, trimmed
2 teaspoons spice rub — (use same as in carrots)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups greens — watercress, arugula, dark hearty lettuces
VINAIGRETTE:
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon honey mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss carrots with oil, spice rub and salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, tossing occasionally, until carrots are softened, browned, about 15-20 minutes. Carrots should be very tender. Let cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, season pork with salt, pepper and spice rub. Heat a saute pan to high, add oil and sear tenderloin on all sides. Transfer to oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 145°F, about 10 minutes. Remove, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
3. Pulse the pine nuts, garlic and red chili flakes in a food processor with oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add about a cup of the cooked carrots, vinegar and process until it reaches a coarse texture, adding more oil if necessary. Taste for seasonings.
4. SALAD: Toss the greens and the remaining carrots with vinaigrette. Slice pork and serve with romesco alongside the salad.
Per Serving: 373 Calories; 28g Fat (66.8% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 90mg Sodium.

Grits: printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Smoked Gouda Grits

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup grits — coarse ground (NOT instant)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter — cut into pieces
3 ounces gouda cheese — smoked or regular
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped

1. Bring milk, salt and water to a boil in a large pan over medium high heat. Gradually whisk in grits until smooth.
2. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, whisking frequently, until creamy but still with some bite, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with Italian parsley.
Per Serving: 164 Calories; 10g Fat (52.5% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 33mg Cholesterol; 457mg Sodium.

Posted in Fish, Grilling, Salads, on June 14th, 2018.

ahi_bowl_citrus_rice_spinach

Healthy, easy, refreshing for a summer evening.

A post from daughter Sara . . .

As I’ve started watching my diet a bit, I find myself looking for flavorful, yet easy dinner dishes.  This is a true match for the easy and healthy.  I had my first Ahi Bowl at a restaurant called The Fish District in San Diego, CA (near where I live).  The crisp veggies with warm rice and fish make this a wonderful summer dish. I love the combination of sweet teriyaki with the nose-burning touch of wasabi sauce.  I cook the Ahi outside on the side burner of my grill (well actually, my husband does – I’m banned from the grill as I apparently don’t clean it correctly!)  This is my own at home version.

With blackened seasoning to go on the fish, and julienned veggies to fix, I can bring this dinner together in about 20-25 minutes. With a bottle of teriyaki sauce to drizzle and a squirt of wasabi sauce (don’t use the pure wasabi) it’s so easy to just make a big platter with everything on it (rice on the side) and everyone can take what they want from the platter. For me, it’s no rice, but my family loves the lemony rice to go along side. Everyone loves it! And by the way, I buy my Ahi at Wal-Mart. I’ve found it to be really fresh. I buy it in a big pack and stick it in the freezer, then defrost what I need (one small steak per person, usually).

What’s GOOD: my family particularly loves lemon rice (which I make to serve with other things too), and they like ahi. We all do, and we can pick what we want to eat on the “bowl” with, or without rice. I use spinach only instead of rice. Easy dinner and healthy too.

What’s NOT: nothing really – maybe only the time it takes to julienne the carrots and cucumber. Otherwise, it’s such a cinchy-easy dinner to prepare. Be sure to not overcook the ahi – you want it bright red in the middle.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Ahi Bowls

Recipe By: Sara C
Serving Size: 4

1 pound ahi tuna — (4 oz filets) seasoned with blackened spices
CITRUS RICE:
1 cup white rice
1/2 cup lemon juice zest from 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups water salt to taste
SALAD:
1 cup carrots — julienned
1 cup cucumbers — julienned
pickled ginger — (optional)
1 whole avocado — sliced
1/2 cup cilantro
4 cups fresh spinach
Terriaki Sauce
Wasabi Sauce (not straight wasabi)

1. Using outdoor grill, rub grill lightly with oil (use tongs and a saturated, folded square of paper towel), then place ahi over high heat until grill marks appear. Turn ahi over and repeat. Do not cook for more than about 45 seconds on each side – you want grill marks on the outside but the ahi to be rare/raw in the middle. Remove to a cutting board and cut across the grain into this slices. Quickly serve while it’s still hot.
2. If preferred, use a very large platter and place salad ingredients in decorative piles, with ahi in the middle. Serve rice on the side. For each serving, place rice and/or salad on bottom of bowl. Arrange each veggie separately around edge of bowl. Place just-off-the-grill sliced Ahi in center. Sprinkle cilantro on top. Drizzle with terriaki and wasabi sauce.
Per Serving: 438 Calories; 9g Fat (26.3% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 50g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 53mg Cholesterol; 115mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on June 9th, 2018.

olive_bread_salad_chickpeas

A lovely salad with arugula (or kale), olives, shaved fennel, Manchego cheese, radicchio, spiced garbanzo beans, with some toasted olive bread croutons and tossed with a succulent fig balsamic dressing.

It was a month or more ago that this salad was made at a class with Tarla Fallgatter. I was trying to not eat carbs, so I didn’t have any of the olive bread croutons, or any of the chickpeas, but I lapped up everything else and really liked the salad dressing with a hint of sweetness to it. Others in the class were ooohing and aaahing, so I know both the croutons and chickpeas tasted good.

The garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are added to a pan full of garlic and red chili flakes with oil, and you cook them for 6-8 minutes until they blister. Once cooked, you remove all the loose skins. You might think that’s too much work, but it won’t take but a minute of time. The skins come off easily enough.

The vinaigrette is made with fig balsamic (if you don’t have some, you need it in your pantry arsenal), a tetch of raspberry vinegar, some balsamic mustard (another item you need in your refrigerator arsenal) and olive oil. So delicious.

Meanwhile you need some radicchio (or red endive), some thinly sliced fennel, some roasted red and yellow peppers (jarred works here), some tasty Mediterranean olives (pitted and sliced), some shaved Manchego (mmm, me likes Manchego), and the arugula. If you favor kale, use that instead. For whatever reason, sometimes kale doesn’t agree with me. I know it’s good for me, and nearly every market these days has about 4 varieties of kale to choose from. I’ll use arugula instead.Toss it all together and you have a very lovely looking and tasty salad for a summer’s eve.

What’s GOOD: the combo of all the veggies is so perfect – the shreds of Manchego, the olives, the crunch of the toasted croutons, the chickpeas, some fennel and peppers. All delicious, then when you toss it with the figgy vinaigrette, oh, what a combination – serve it with a lovely grilled chicken breast and that’s dinner. I promise you’ll hear raves.

What’s NOT: It takes a little bit of time to put together, more than some salad preparations. Worth it, though.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Olive Bread Salad with Spicy Chickpeas

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

VINAIGRETTE:
3 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
2 teaspoons balsamic mustard salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
SPICY CHICKPEAS:
15 ounces garbanzo beans, canned — rinsed, rubbed to remove outer skin
4 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/3 cup olive oil salt and pepper to taste
SALAD:
3 cups olive bread — torn into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon spice rub — your choice
2 tablespoons fresh oregano — coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley — chopped
1 head radicchio — torn into bite-sized pieces (or use red endive)
1 whole fennel bulb — thinly sliced
2 whole red bell peppers — or yellow, or one of each
1/3 cup olives — Mediterranean type, pitted, sliced
3 ounces Manchego cheese — shaved
2 cups arugula — or baby kale

1. CHICKPEAS: Cook chickpeas (drained, rinsed and blotted with paper towels) with garlic and pepper flakes in oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until garlic is golden brown and chickpeas begin to blister, 6-8 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
2. VINAIGRETTE: Combine ingredients in a lidded jar and shake. Set aside. Shake well before using.
3. SALAD: Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss bread with spice rub of your choice, salt, pepper and oil. Spread out on a large baking sheet and bake/toast, tossing once or twice, until crisp on the outside edges, but still chewy in the center, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool.
4. Place all the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss with vinaigrette to coat. Add chickpeas, then divide among plates to serve.
Per Serving: 468 Calories; 39g Fat (75.4% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 384mg Sodium.

Posted in Beef, Grilling, on June 4th, 2018.

grilled_flank_steak_onions_ancho_chili_rub

Is it hard to see what’s in that photo? Grilled sweet onions on the left, a nice pile of thinly sliced, grilled flank steak, then a creamy horseradish sauce with onion.

I can’t say that flank steak is one of my favorites. Although you can make it tender with a marinade (this one wasn’t marinated for tenderness, just spice rubbed for flavor), it’s tricky to do just the right amount of tenderizing without the meat becoming mushy. If you’ve ever had mushy meat, you’ll know what I’m talking about. This steak was served at a great cooking class with Phillis Carey, and although I love-loved the flavor of this combination, I think I’d do the same rendition but with ribeyes instead of flank. Or maybe with a nice piece of sirloin, sliced thin. By far, the onions were my favorite part (sweet onions grilled with a spice rub on them too) and I lapped up the horseradish spiked mayo sauce with every bite of meat.

This sauce, what Phillis called an Onion Blossom Horseradish Sauce (she was mimicking the jarred Orange Blossom Horseradish Sauce, is it made by Rothschild?) and it’s really good, and very easy. It needs a few hours to combine the flavors – do NOT just make the sauce as you’re preparing the meat – it needs at least an hour to meld. It wouldn’t hurt the meat to be spice rubbed at the same time then kept chilled until ready to grill.

You used to not be able to find ancho chili powder in stores, but you can these days, so do seek it out. The rub comes together very easily with standard ingredients in most spice cabinets. The rub is used on both the steak and the onions, with you having tossed the onions with some olive oil first so the rub will stick to it. You’ll use most of the rub on the steak and the remainder on the onions.

The flank steak is rubbed all over with oil just before grilling for 7-9 minutes per side (no more than that or it will be overcooked). Once grilled, transfer the steak to a cutting board and tent it with foil for 8-10 minutes, then slice thinly on the diagonal and pile it onto a heated platter along side the onions and then drape the sauce over the top. Delicious!

What’s GOOD:  the flavors are marvelous. I particularly loved the onions, but then I love grilled onions. Just remember to buy the sweet ones and slice them thickly. Do slice the flank steak thinly across the grain and pile them onto a serving plate (looks pretty that way).

What’s NOT: the meat will be a bit chewy – some folks like steak that way (me not so much). Otherwise, this is a stellar recipe – you’ll need only a green salad to complete the meal.

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Grilled Flank Steak and Onions with Ancho Chili Rub

Recipe By: Phillis Carey cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 4

SAUCE:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T. prepared horseradish
1 T. ketchup
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika — or regular paprika
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 Pinch cayenne pepper
STEAK:
2 T. ancho chili powder
2 T. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 lb. flank steak — (1 to 2 1/2)
2 large sweet onions — peeled and sliced in thick rings
Grapeseed oil for brushing

1. For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 days.
2. Preheat the grill. In a small bowl combine the ancho chili, cumin, coriander, mustard, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne in a small bowl to make the rub. Pat dry the flank steak with paper towels and coat well with most of the rub. Sprinkle onions with some of the rub as well; brush or toss onions with a bit of oil.
3. Brush the flank steak with oil all over and place on the grill. Cook the steak 7 to 9 minutes per side or to desired doneness; cook the onions next to the steak. Transfer the steak to a carving board and let rest, tented with foil, for 8 to 10 minutes. Slice the steak across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Serve steak with onions and drizzled with sauce.
Per Serving: 447 Calories; 36g Fat (70.7% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 67mg Cholesterol; 1277mg Sodium.

Posted in Soups, on May 30th, 2018.

fresh_easy_salmon_chowder

It wasn’t too long ago I made a very complex salmon chowder. Here’s another one that’s just about as good, and a whole lot easier. Maybe the steam fogged up my camera lens, you think?

I must be a sucker for salmon chowder. I do love the stuff. And this one is relatively easy to make. It does have a bit of heavy cream in it, though. If you don’t want that part, just add more chicken stock. It will still be good! Onion and celery are sautéed, then you add some corn (frozen works fine here) and potatoes, some spices and stock. It’s simmered for 15-20 minutes (or less) until the potatoes are just fork tender but not falling apart. The cream is added and brought back to a simmer, then you add in fresh chunks of salmon and fresh dill, and that gets simmered for just a few minutes. You do NOT want to simmer it long or the salmon pieces will fall apart. Scoop into bowls and add another few tender twigs of fresh dill and serve. Hot. To mmmm’s.

If you like smoked salmon, that can be substituted, which will give the soup an altogether different flavor, but still salmon, of course. If you’re not fond of salmon, substitute another firm-fleshed fish in this (halibut, tilapia, sea bass, even sole would work). Altogether delicious in any of those riffs. This came from a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter.

What’s good: how easy it is to make, first of all. Then the delicious flavor – the aromatics and onion add lovely depth. Plenty of good texture too. Worth making for sure.

What’s NOT: nothing I can think of – this is a great soup.

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Easy Fresh Salmon Chowder

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

2 tablespoons butter — or up to 3 T.
1 medium onion — peeled, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs — thinly sliced
1 pound red potatoes — cut in 1″ cubes
1 ear fresh corn — sliced off the cob (or substitute frozen)
salt and pepper to taste
some pinches of a spice rub, your choice
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream — or up to 3/4 cup
1 pound fresh salmon fillet — cut in 1″ cubes (or substitute smoked salmon, or other firm-fleshed fish)
2 tablespoons fresh dill weed — chopped, with more for garnish

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan; add onion and celery and saute until soft. Add corn and potatoes and saute to coat with vegetables, adding more butter as necessary. Add spice rub, salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken broth and simmer until potatoes almost fork-tender.
2. Add cream and bring to a simmer.
3. Add salmon and dill and simmer gently for a few minutes until salmon is just cooked through. Do not over cook or the salmon pieces will fall apart. Scoop portions into serving bowls and top with more dill.
Per Serving: 293 Calories; 14g Fat (42.8% calories from fat); 22g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 77mg Cholesterol; 332mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on May 25th, 2018.

orange_smoked_paprika_vinaigrette

A vinaigrette riff – kind of regular ingredients – but with smoked paprika for flavor.

Smoked paprika may be an acquired taste. And really, until about 15 years ago I’d never even heard of it. Then it began showing up in food magazines, and cooking classes, and visiting Hungary, I enjoyed it in several things. I bought some in Hungary, and on a subsequent trip I bought the sweet, half-sharp (half sweet and half hot) and smoked. In fact I still have a vacuum sealed bag of sweet in my pantry. It’s about 5 years old (never opened) – I hope it’s still good. But I’m now out of smoked, so will have to find a local source, probably Penzey’s.

Awhile back, because I subscribe to a free book website called BookBub, they sent the daily missive with their list of special-priced e-books at Amazon. In the mix that day was a book called Modern Sauces: More than 150 Recipes for Every Cook, Every Day. It was a real bargain price – probably $1.99. For that day only. So I downloaded it to my Kindle.

If you really asked me, though, I’d tell you that I don’t much like looking at e-cookbooks. It’s not my favorite thing to go find my iPad stand so I can prop it  up on my kitchen counter to read and prepare a recipe. I suppose that makes me old-school in this regard. But I did order this one, because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have ordered the hard copy (for a whole lot more money, of course). So I did read it – in bed at night, over 2-4 evenings. And I liked the sound of a bunch of recipes in it. This is one of them. I brought my Kindle downstairs to my kitchen and flipped through all the recipes after I’d read the whole book, and I copied the recipes I liked into MasterCook. And here we are.

green_salad_w_orange_paprika_vinaigretteLately I’ve been eating a lot of salads. In that salad above I’ve got a mix of all kinds of veggies, plus a few sliced almonds and bocconcini, the little fresh mozzarella balls.

I’m on a diet. Probably one of these days I’ll write a post about it, but for now, I’m sticking to this new diet that has been very easy for me. In the mornings, I eat my regular yogurt bowl (unsweetened, Fage, plain) with a few berries, walnuts or almonds, a scoop of whey protein powder, a squirt of concentrated liquid turmeric, a drop of vitamin D & K, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and now SAM-e). That’s breakfast. Mid-morning I have a handful of nuts. Lunch is usually a bowl of soup – mostly vegetables in chicken/mushroom broth with either ground turkey or chicken, or even lean grass-fed beef. The soup is loaded with all kinds of non-carb vegetables. It’s satisfying and filling. I’ve made 2 big batches of this type of soup recently. Then another handful of nuts in the mid-afternoon, and a 6-ounce “shake” mixture of prebiotics mixed with unsweetened almond milk (which I’ve found I actually like!), and sometime during the day I also have a square or two of intense chocolate (dark, 80% or higher). That’s allowed.

Dinner is usually a salad with plenty of good veggies, some kind of protein (chicken, tuna, or even some lean pork) and a good olive-oil based dressing. And eggs are fine. What’s OUT of my diet is any sugar. Period. (He does say stevia – I use Truvia – is fine in small amounts.) No desserts, and fruit (except berries, although there are a few other fruits you can eat in very small quantities). And it’s working. That’s what I’ll tell you. I’m not eating any complex carbs at all – no bread of any kind, no flour, of course, no beans, no grains, no starchy vegetables (including peas and corn, of course). And no dairy except yogurt and a dib-dab of butter if it’s essential to cooking something. He also allows small portions of cheeses. Do I miss all those things? Sometimes. But it’s not because of hunger. I’m positively amazed that I’m not hungry in between meals, but I’m not. The handful of nuts satisfy any in-between hunger. I can have canned soybeans or edamame beans, so I plan to pick up some of the latter at TJ’s this week. They’d be good added to a soup – for texture. I can have red wine or an ounce of liquor if I want. In moderation of course. There’s a whole lot more complexities to the diet, but that’s it in a nutshell. It’s a diet proscribed by Dr. Stephen Gundry (a heart surgeon). He’s the one who wrote The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in Healthy Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain. The conundrum in that book is about the hidden threats in eating lectins, something that exists in lots of foods. There’s a cookbook that goes along with that as well. But his 2017 book is the one I’m following, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution: Turn Off the Genes That Are Killing You and Your Waistline. If you’re interested, go to amazon and search for The Plant Paradox and you’ll get to a page with all of his books and books written by others about his 2 books, including several cookbooks, even one for an instant pot!

But because I’m now eating a salad at least once a day, I’m wanting more variety in dressings. There are a whole slew of oils you can have on this diet, but EVOO is the fav. No cream dressings at all, no sour cream or cream anything (except yogurt, I suppose). I’m fine with salads, as long as I can vary them with different proteins, veggie options and a different dressing every few days. Thank goodness! Hence this new dressing came into rotation.

The author of the Modern Sauces book mentioned that of all the salad dressings she makes (she considers a salad dressing a sauce) this one is her favorite. When an author or writer says that about any food, I’m all in. I made a half of a batch of this to try it out. It’s gone already, so I’ll likely make it again soon. You may see more salad dressings here in coming months. And more veggies, I suppose, in one form or another. Probably not any desserts, though, unless they’re mainly fresh berries! And I’ll still be preparing a protein entrée, so you’ll see some of those recipes. I went to a cooking class (actually 2) recently and I’ll be writing up all those recipes. I took a teeny-tiny taste of each item so I could decide if it was blog-worthy. All of them were.

What’s GOOD: loved the smoked paprika scent/taste in this. Different. Good, for sure.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Fresh Orange-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

Recipe By: from Modern Sauces, 2017
Serving Size: 4-8

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest — lightly packed, finely grated
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar — or substitute Truvia or stevia
2 drops sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup EVOO

1. In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, paprika, sugar [or sweetener], Sriracha and salt, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Gradually whisk in oil a little at a time, until the dressing is creamy and blended.
2. Taste and adjust the flavor balance and seasoning. Whisk again to blend just before using. Will keep for a week.
Per Serving: 124 Calories; 14g Fat (95.7% calories from fat); trace Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 67mg Sodium.

Posted in Miscellaneous, on May 20th, 2018.

comeback_sauce_2_fish_seafood

Little did I know – there is comeback sauce, and then there is comeback sauce. Of course there could be riffs, and maybe that’s all this is. A riff with comeback sauce for fish, not meat or poultry. Or every other kind of food thing on the planet.

Seems like I read, or heard, that comeback sauce is a condiment almost as ubiquitous as salt and pepper on the dining tables of the South . Not that it could live there (out on the table) – no – because it has mayo in it. But it can live in the frig for quite awhile and be used for all variety of things over the course of many meals.

So I read, Comeback sauce was originally used on fish and shellfish, but since it’s been around a loooong time, it’s kind of morphed into something that can be universally  used as a condimentcomeback_sauce_2_bowl on just about anything. At least I think that’s the case – if I have any Southern readers, please correct me in the comments below!

I suppose this could be more like a tartar sauce, but it’s with more of the comeback additions. I wrote about Comeback Sauce awhile back. That one has more tomato type ingredients (jarred chili sauce and ketchup) than this one, though both are mayo based first.

Wanting to try this one, I made it to go with some shrimp I had left over from a restaurant meal. And I liked the recipe because it contained capers (love them), cornichons, and it had a bit of minced celery – which gives the sauce some lovely crunch. It took but a few minutes to prepare – I made a green salad and some fresh veggies to go with it, and there I had a lovely meal. I think, since I’ve been a widow (4 years now) I’ve become more inventive with making a full meal with stuff – left overs from various things I’ve made.

When I made this, I had only one recipe/post in the queue for posting here. Gracious! I needed to get busy. But then I went to a cooking class which created a whole raft of new recipes to write about, and I totally forgot I’d made this. As I write this, I still have the sauce in the frig, and it still tastes great. I’ll give it another week, and if I haven’t used it up, I’d best toss it out. The celery is about the only thing that could go “off.” Otherwise, I would think this would keep for a month. The recipe I used said it could be made 3 days ahead. Well . . . mine’s a whole lot older than that, and it still tastes as good as the day I made it. Amazingly, the celery still has crunch.

The making of this is so easy – grab a small bowl and start adding the ingredients. Stir, chill for a little bit to let the flavors meld, and you’re good to go.

What’s GOOD: as I mentioned, this is a kind of a universal sauce for lots of things, but this one lends itself better to fish (with the capers, cornichons and lemon), but I’ll tell you right off, since I made it I’ve used it to dip leftover chicken into, and even some asparagus. It was lovely. AND, I’ve used it instead of mustard or mayo on a sandwich.

What’s NOT: really nothing – it’s a great basic sauce to serve for fish, but don’t let that limit you to using it on other things.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Mississippi Comeback Sauce for Fish

Recipe By: From Food & Wine, May 2018
Serving Size: 6

1/2 cup mayonnaise — Duke’s or Hellman’s/Best Foods
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 celery stalk — peeled and minced
1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley — minced
1/2 tablespoon cornichon — minced
3/4 teaspoon shallot — minced
3/4 teaspoon capers — drained, rinsed, minced
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest — (grated, not in strings)
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne — or more if desired

Note: If making this to serve 4 as a tartar sauce with fish, double the recipe.
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well.
2. Cover and chill. This will keep for a week or two. Serve with shellfish or fish. Leftovers taste great on vegetables or other protein (chicken, pork, or as a spread on a sandwich).
Per Serving: 148 Calories; 16g Fat (88.6% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 6mg Cholesterol; 374mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, on May 14th, 2018.

chicken_shallots_grapes_in_pan

No, don’t be confused – my last post was DUCK with shallots and grapes. I adapted it to chicken. So good.

Don’t get me wrong – I like duck, but whenever I cook it, or eat it, I don’t want to look at the calorie and fat count. Those darned ducks store up fat like nobody’s business! So, after having the duck prepared this way – and after reading in the recipe that it could be made with chicken, a-ha! Chicken it is.

The duck was cooked with high heat and long. I knew chicken, with much, much less fat to render, would be a dried out mess, so I researched some braised chicken recipes and came up with a formula that worked. The timing I used was from Judy Rodgers.

What I want you to get from this recipe is the succulent sauce – I love chicken – but this recipe is so enhanced by the use of shallots and grapes. Serve it with some rice or mashed potatoes (or maybe some disguised mashed cauliflower?). And for sure serve some crusty bread along side to dip into those fabulous juices.

chicken_shallots_grapes_resting_cuttingboardThe making of this is VERY easy. Add seedless grapes (a pound) and about 12-15 shallots (yes, that’s a lot, but trust me), pour in some red wine and chicken broth, some aromatics, nestle the chicken right in on top and into the oven it goes for about 30 minutes at 375°F. Covered. Then you reduce the temp to 200°F, remove the lid and bake for another hour. THEN, you turn up the heat to 400°F and get it juicy brown in 15 minutes. Remove, put the chicken out on a cutting board, tent for 10 minutes while you finish getting everything else together, then slice and serve. Meanwhile, pour the pan juices into a fat separator, let it sit for 5 minutes, return to the pan and continue to reduce it some if you’d like.

chicken_shallots_grapes_parsnip_mashWhat you then have is a great platter of tasty chicken with shallots and grapes to eat on the side. And some delicious sauce to serve on the side, or drizzle on top of the chicken. Do eat the shallots and grapes – they’re to die for (if you can get that excited about an onion or a grape, that is). My taste buds were singing.

What’s GOOD: how easy this was to make. No browning, just braising, really, with some varied ingredients. And the taste – well the grapes and shallots add a fragrant and tasty sweetness to the mix; the juice is out of this world, so don’t waste it!

What’s NOT: nary a thing, really. Takes a couple of hours; that’s it!

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Braised Chicken with Shallots and Grapes

Recipe By: Adapted from a Saveur recipe for roasting a duck
Serving Size: 4

Salt
1 pound red grapes — on the stems, seedless
12 shallots — (12 to 15) or pearl onions
2 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme — on the stems
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup red wine
1 large chicken

1. Salt the chicken well, inside and out. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Pour the stock and red wine into the bottom of a heavy, lidded pot such as a Dutch oven. Add the bay leaf. Arrange the shallots, grapes and thyme in the pot, then nestle the chicken on top. Roast for 30 minutes, covered.
3. Reduce oven temp to 200°F, remove lid and cook for an hour. Increase heat to 400°F and continue roasting for 15 minutes. Chicken thigh meat should register 170°F. Remove to a cutting board, tent with foil for 10 minutes, then slice chicken in pieces, and serve with some of the shallots and grapes, along with lots of sauce. If there is leftover sauce, chill it to remove the fat and use with leftover chicken, or save to add to soup.
Per Serving (assumes you’re eating all the skin and fat): 949 Calories; 59g Fat (58.3% calories from fat); 69g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 340mg Cholesterol; 434mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, on May 9th, 2018.

duck_with_grapes_in_the_pot

You know the word unctuous? Not a word I use very often, and it doesn’t pertain to every dish you might prepare that delivered delicious results.

Having used that word, I decided to look it up. Unctuous, in relating to food, is only used in conjunction with greasy. Well. That brought me up short. This duck, well, yes, I suppose it did have a generous amount of fat in the pan, but it definitely was not greasy. So maybe unctuous isn’t the right word. I thought it had a more generous description/definition meaning soothing, rounded flavor. Which this duck was. So, if you’re turned off by the word unctuous, please disregard!

What this duck was, was EASY to make, and it was just bursting with flavor. My friends, Bud & Cherrie, invited me for dinner one night, and Bud, having read an article in Saveur about duck, decided to make this dish. Every once in awhile he gets a bug in his ear and decides to cook. So Cherrie took the back seat and made sides. I brought dessert.

Once I got home I looked up the recipe, and read that it could also be made with chicken, so my next recipe in a few days, will be this same recipe, but with chicken. As I’m writing this, I’ve just finished using up all of the chicken left over from making it (and  used the last of it in a soup). But this post is about duck.

duck_with_grapes_platterThe duck is only prepped with some salt. In a large Dutch oven you layer in the flavors – a pound of red seedless grapes and a boat load of shallots. A lot of them – at least 12 if not more if they’re small. You add some low-sodium chicken broth and an equal quantity of good red wine, add some bay leaves and fresh thyme, and you’re in business. The duck gets laid in on top of all that stuff and put into a HOT oven for about 2 hours, give or take, with some of it covered, and some not. By that time, the duck is just about falling apart, but it’s absorbed some of the wonderful flavors of the grapes, shallots and red wine.

When Bud removed it from the pot it still held together – barely – and he put it out on that platter (above), gently cut it into pieces and we helped ourselves. It was so moist and tender. We all dunked bread into the luscious juices too. That may have been the best part! When I made this with chicken, I poured the juices through a fat separator, used some for left overs, then used the remaining in a delicious soup I made.

What’s GOOD: first off, it’s EASY. That’s the part that I liked best. The flavor was full – you got a hint of the shallots and red wine and grapes. A domestic-raised duck will feed 4 people. If they’re smaller, you might need 2 ducks. As you likely know, they’re expensive (unless you have them on your property). Altogether wonderful meal; worth making for sure. And yes, unctuous still is the word I’d use, even if it might be wrong!

What’s NOT: the only thing I’d mention is the length of time it took to prep the shallots. Buy big ones, so you can use fewer of them, and they’re easier to peel. Overall, nothing at all wrong with this dish – well maybe the fat content. I didn’t want to know . . . and by the way, the nutrition count you’ll see at the end of the recipe assumes you’re going to eat all the skin and (greasy) juices, which you probably won’t do.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Braised Duck with Shallots and Grapes

Recipe By: Saveur Magazine, 2017
Serving Size: 4

1 large duck — or 2 small ones
salt
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth — or use duck stock if you have it
1 cup red wine
1 pound red grapes — on the stems, seedless
12 shallots — or pearl onions (may use more if desired)
2 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme — on the stems

1. Salt the ducks well, inside and out. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Pour the stock and red wine into the bottom of a heavy, lidded Dutch oven. Add the 2 bay leaves. Arrange the shallots, grapes and thyme in the pot, then nestle the duck(s) on top. Cover the pot and roast in the oven for 90 minutes.
3. Uncover the pot and let everything cook down. This will also crisp the skin of the ducks. This can take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes, depending on how fat your birds were. Keep an eye on it. Remove bay leaves.
4. Cut the duck in pieces, and serve with some of the shallots and grapes, along with lots of sauce. Ideally, serve some crusty bread on the side because you’re going to want to dunk the bread into the sauce/juice. It’s almost good enough to drink. If you have left over juices, chill to remove the fat, then use the juices on the leftovers, or it’s great to add to a poultry soup of some kind.
Per Serving (assumes you’re consuming all the skin and juices, which you won’t): 1421 Calories; 126g Fat (81.1% calories from fat); 41g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 241mg Cholesterol; 254mg Sodium.

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