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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Clam Pizza

 


Clam pizza.  I've read about.  The iconic dish of Rhode Island.  But, I've never had it although it's always sounded intriguing.  So, here I was.  6:00.  No clue what we could have for dinner.  Carryout last night and that wasn't happening two nights in a row.  I had a couple of humongous patty pan squashes thanks to a glitch with a farm-to-table vendor we use.  Read up on how to cook those.  The little ones are great.  Roast them and you're done.  Wasn't too sure what to do with the big ones.  Walked into the kitchen to survey and saw the remaining pizza crust.  The crust I'd used for the tomato pie pizza was one of two.  The second was sitting in it's bag on my counter getting stale.  Fine.  Pizza it was.  But, I wasn't excited about red sauce.  We've had our share of pasta with red sauce over the last week or so.  All of the sudden I thought about clam pizza.  Headed to eatyourbooks.com and started reading the ingredient lists.  Fine, I had a plan.

Into the skillet for the veggies went a package of diced pancetta.  And, into the pizza topping skillet went some butter.  Then, shallots, garlic, spinach, white wine and clams.  Once the pancetta had had an opportunity to flavor the veggies, it got added to the topping.  After coating the crust with olive oil and garlic and a dusting of quattro formaggio and crushed red pepper, the topping went on.  Then, a heaping serving of the same quattro formaggio.  Into the oven.  

What did we think?  A five.  Hands down one of my favorite pizzas EVER.  Now, that reminds me of a story.  When I was in college we didn't have Sunday evening dinner at the sorority house.  Noble Roman's was the new deal down the street.  Unlike most people,  I LOVE anchovies.  So, I'd hike down the street and pick up my anchovy pizza and bring it back to the house.  My sorority sisters would smell the pizza and ask to share.  I'd say sure, it's got anchovies on it.  Strangely enough I never had a taker.  LOL.  And, to think that on our 3rd or 4th date Connie and I ordered an anchovy pizza and loved every bite!

Clam Pizza

Ingredients:

1 thin pizza crust or 2 naan bread

2 T butter

1 large shallot, finely diced

4 oz diced pancetta

2 c fresh spinach

1/3 c dry white wine

2 cans minced clams, drained (you can reserve the juice for another use)

1/4 t crushed red pepper

2 t olive oil

garlic powder

2 c quattro formaggio or five cheese Italian or mozzarella, shredded

Directions:

In a medium skillet, saute the pancetta until it's a bit brown.  Remove it from the skillet and wipe the skillet.  Put in the butter and melt it.  Saute the shallot until it's softened and translucent.  Add in the spinach and cook it down for a couple of minutes and then pour in the wine.  Cook that until your skillet is almost dry.  Then, add the clams and the pancetta.  Remove the skillet from the heat.  



Spread the pizza crust with the olive oil.  Sprinkle on the garlic powder, then a dusting of the cheese followed by the crushed red pepper.  



Top it all with the clam/spinach mixture.  And, then sprinkle on the rest of the cheese.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. 

 

  



Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Tomato Pie Pizza




 I love the idea of tomato pie.  What could go wrong with tomatoes, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese in a pie crust?  As it turns out, plenty.  I made one a couple of years ago and it was soggy.  I do believe the leftovers went into the trash bucket.  Yet, I see photos of tomato pie and pretty much drool.  So, I decided to see what I could do that'd have the flavor but not the sogginess.  Pizza it was.  And, it was a solid four on a one to five scale.  

How did I make it?  I started with a prepared thin crust schmeared on Mom's cheese toastie mix, topped that with some bacon crumbles and fresh basil then layered on thickly sliced tomatoes and finished with a shower of quattro formaggio from Trader Joe's.  Into the oven at 450 for ten minutes and we were happy campers.  

What is Mom's cheese toastie mix?  It really started as a cocktail party appetizer.  Shredded cheddar, onion, Worcestershire and mayonnaise on party rye.  Broiled until it was nice and melty and served hot.  Over the years it's become one of our favorites.  Leftover English muffin half from sausage mcmuffins?  Turn it into cheese toastie.  Need a snack late afternoon?  Make some cheese toastie mix, heat it just a bit and schmear it onto Triscuits.  What you do is grate cheddar on the big holes.  Sprinkle it with Worcestershire and toss in some dried onion.  Then, add mayonnaise to moisten.  I'd give you measurements but it really starts with how much cheese you have and what you're going to make with it!   

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Duck in Caramel Brandy Sauce with Peaches and Asparagus



My eye was on carryout from Sahm's.  This was the third day of a virtual conference.  That lasted nine hours a day.  Talk about Zoom burnout!  But, I learned a bunch so it was worth the time.  I'd read an email mid-morning with their specials.  Not having to spend the time cooking and then cleaning up was very appealing.  Then, mid-afternoon our Imperfect box arrived.  A head of romaine, two red bell peppers, some citrus, wonderful pencil-thin asparagus, a bunch of spinach and one of cilantro, creamer potatoes, cod pieces, Dover sole, crab claw meat, a chicken to spatchcock and a half of a smoked duck breast.  Plus, I still had a bunch of peaches.  The duck breast was calling my name.  What could I do with the duck and a peach and the asparagus?  And, should I do a starch?

On to eatyourbooks.  Nothing came up when I put in smoked duck, asparagus, peach.  Finally, after trying umpteen searches I found a couple of potential recipes.  One for pickled red grapes and smoked duck breast.   And, one for smoked duck breast with apples in a caramel brandy sauce from Food and Wine.  Hmmm, that had potential.  And, it'd go well with asparagus.  And, I could even do the creamer potatoes with rosemary.  Now, to reconfigure the recipe for the ingredients on hand.  

Basically, what you'll need is a smoked duck breast.  It's actually half of a smoked duck breast.  It should have a nice fat cap on it.  You'll want to score the fat so it'll render nicely.  Then, you'll need a peach, sugar, , chicken stock, brandy and cornstarch.  For the sides, you'll need creamer potatoes or small red potatoes, butter, rosemary and salt.  And, some asparagus with the tough ends trimmed.  

This comes together pretty quickly.  Start the duck breast on low and slow.  You want to render the fat for cooking the peach.  At the same  time, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and then take a good handful of rosemary sprigs (I used four for the two of us) and cover the bottom of a small skillet.  Top the rosemary with the potatoes.  Try not to have any of the pieces be more than about 1/2" or they'll take too long to cook.  Liberally sprinkle with salt.  Use tongs to keep turning the potatoes so all the sides get nice and brown.  

Meanwhile, back at the duck skillet, the skin will be a lovely brown.  Still doesn't mean you should eat the fat, just that the duck looks beautiful and you've now got the start of a fantastic sauce.  


Cut the peach into quarters.  Remove the duck from the skillet and put in the peach slices.  Sprinkle them with a couple of tablespoons of sugar.  Let them brown and bit and turn them over.  By now you should have a semi-caramelized sauce.  Stir in about 1/4 cup of chicken stock.  I used Better Than Bouillon to make broth since I didn't want to thaw that small an amount of stock.  The recipe says the caramel will seize up and splatter.  Except I wasn't exactly following the recipe...  Shocking, I know.  After incorporating the broth, I pulled the skillet off the heat and poured in a bit of brandy.  Probably about a tablespoon.  Then, I took the dish I mixed the broth in and dumped in a couple of teaspoons of corn starch.  Added a bit of water then stirred that into the sauce.  


A few minutes before I finished the duck sauce - about the time I stirred in the broth - I moved the potatoes to half the skillet and put the asparagus in the other half.  Turned them once so all of the spears got happy.  


So, there you have it.  I sliced the duck and divvied up the slices.  Topped those with the peaches and sauce.  Potatoes and asparagus on the side.  

What did we think?  We actually gave the whole meal a five.  It's VERY rich with all the duck fat that renders.  And, of course the butter and sugar don't help.  Keep your portions small and you'll be fine. 


Sunday, August 9, 2020

Zucchini Fritters and Grilled Peach Salad, Summer on a Plate




We're rapidly approaching five months of working from home.  One would think that I'd have had plenty of time to blog.  Unfortunately, I've been busy listening to all kinds of economists chatter on about all this chaos in our world instead of blogging in my "spare time."  Now, that doesn't mean I've slacked off on trying new recipes.  Not at all.  We've been eating at home and trying new things regularly.  In fact, we've had a couple of dishes that have been so fabulous that we've had them again right away.  

Eons ago a gal who Connie played bridge with told him that she had a very close friend who also had a blog.  She introduced us and it turned out that Liz and her hubby, Bill, live across the street from a friend of mine from high school.  Steve and his wife Pam are two of Liz and Bill's best friends.  Small world.  The six of us have had some great dinners together.  Now, we're plotting and planning a cocktail party around Liz and Bill's pool so we can enjoy each other's company AND socially distance.  I'm bringing some skewers of fun.  Connie and I spent dinner brainstorming...  Narrowed a list of about 30 options down to ten.  Probably ought to narrow that more, eh?

The reason I bring up Liz is that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her blog.  Thatskinnychickcanbake.com.  And, boy can she ever.  She also is a magnificent cook.  Early this summer I'd printed off a recipe for zucchini fritters.  It stayed in the stack with my list of foods to use up and recipes to try.  But, it didn't get made.   Until I got the zucchini club from my friend, Shelli.  I'm serious.  I could've hurt someone using that thing as a club.  I knew it had to be shredded.  And, zucchini bread was out of the question.  Too ordinary.  I wanted something new and different.  Ah Ha!  Liz's zucchini fritters.  I made one small modification to her recipe.  We didn't have any green onions so I substituted a small shallot.  

Along with the fritters I was going to make a salad.  I had a bunch of kale to use up and a new recipe from my friend, Linda.  But, I also had a load of peaches from the Peach Truck.  So, on to the internet I went.  There, I found a grilled peach and apricot salad from Food52.  That one would be modified a lot before I was done.  But, the base was a fabulous idea.  You massage kale with olive oil, drizzle in some lemon juice then top it with prosciutto, grilled peaches and feta.  Since I was grilling the peaches, I also grilled the prosciutto and some red onion.  And, blue cheese sounded better than feta.  Especially since we both love peach halves grilled with blue cheese.  If I had the wedges of blue cheese ready to go, I could put them on top of the hot peaches and the cheese would get a bit melty...  

What did we think?  Both of these were make the next night recipes.  Absolutely fabulous.  I loved the grilled prosciutto because it added a subtle crunch to the salad.  Different textures are always fun in a dish.  And, the hot peaches with the slightly melty blue cheese were heavenly.  The peach juices combined with the extra virgin olive oil and lemon made a divine dressing.  

Zucchini Fritters


serves two

Ingredients:

1 lb (about 2 medium) zucchini, coarsely grated

salt

pepper

1 egg

2 scallions or 1 small shallot, finely diced

1/2 c flour

sour cream or yogurt

chives

fleur de sel


Directions:

Toss the zucchini with about 1 tsp of salt.  I used a fine colander with a plate beneath it and pressed on the zucchini several times.  I had to empty the plate a couple of times.  What you don't want is for the zucchini to retain too much water or you'll wind up with mushy fritters that won't brown.  

Beat the egg then add in the scallions or shallot followed by the flour.  Then, add the zucchini.  Heat oil (I used olive oil) to shimmering before you put the zucchini mixture into your skillet.  I used about 1/4 c per fritter and smashed it into about a 4" diameter round.  When the first side was nice and brown, I flipped them.  I served mine with sour cream.  Liz suggests chives and fleur de sel also.  

adapted from thatskinnychickcanbake


Grilled Peach on Kale Salad

Ingredients

serves four

one bunch kale

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

1 T lemon juice

two large peaches, halved

six-eight slices prosciutto

four 1 oz wedges blue cheese or gorgonzola

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Directions:

Tear the kale into bite-sized pieces.  Be sure to discard the stems.  Toss the kale with a tablespoon of the olive oil and massage it until it's softened.  Mix the rest of the olive oil with the lemon juice in a separate bowl.  Lightly brush the peach halves with olive oil.  Put them in a grill basket cut side down.  Add the sliced onions and prosciutto to the grill basket.  Grill over direct heat until the peaches are caramelized.  Crumble the prosciutto and scatter it over the kale.  Scatter the red onion slices over the kale.  Drizzle dressing over the salad.  Top with the peaches and then the wedges of the blue cheese.  Do all this asap so the hot peaches soften the blue cheese.  

adapted from Food52







Sunday, May 31, 2020

Weekly Rumination

I've been really lousy about posting.  For a while my photos weren't downloading from my phone to my computer.  And, now, each one has to be opened and re-saved.  So, it's upped the degree of difficulty.  Add in all the conference calls and educational calls necessary during the pandemic and it's a perfect storm for me.  Lots less time available and more time to accomplish the same task.

A couple of evenings ago I was hunting for a recipe that used radishes in a salad.  I knew we'd loved it and was determined to find it.  Fortunately, it was on here.  All too often I can't find the recipe I'm looking for.  There are some that I even know the page of the cookbook or that the cookbook falls open to that page.  Then, there are others I've made once and would make again if I could find the recipe.  My sister-in-law gave me a wonderful book years ago and I used to be diligent about recording each and every recipe tried.  Used to be is the operative word.  Then, I tried taking a photo of every recipe from a cookbook that we tried.  I know they are there among the thousands of photos.  

I've tried different methods of tracking menus and what we have to use up.  For an entire year I carried a notebook and recorded each meal and weekly made a list of what we had to use up.  It worked great and I wish I'd kept doing it.  Then, I tried Excel spreadsheets.  There must be a dozen of them.  And, they still have some lovely ideas, including which cookbook the recipe is in.  I've also tried using the back of our grocery list pages.  On the front we have a very detailed Excel spreadsheet to check what we need.  Then, on the back it's blank and we list Costco, Trader Joe's etc.  But, those tend to get lost.  

Cookbooks are like novels for me.  I read one and either check off the recipes I want to try on eatyourbooks.com.  Or, if EYB hasn't indexed the book, I take a pad of paper and make a list.  My eyes are always bigger than my stomach so the list is ALWAYS way long.  I might as well list the index and cross out the ones I don't want to make.  I'll be reading a cookbook and think of all the things I'd like to make.  Then, I'm on to the next one and can't remember exactly which one had that great recipe for whatever.  I ruminated for over a year trying to remember just which cookbook had the stellar recipe for tuna rillettes.  We made it three or four times.  And, I wanted to make it again.  Finally last night I was sitting on the couch instead of in my normal chair and there was the cookbook on the coffee table...

So, there you have it.  The sad state of my cooking record keeping.  Scattered and frustrating.  Just this morning I saved a copy of a great salad recipe to make this week.  Now, I've got to remember to print it off once photos download to the computer.  Which could be instantaneous or tomorrow.  

All of this leads to Connie's suggestion.  Put it on the blog.  Every weekend sit down and make a list of all of the things we've got to use up and recipe suggestions and where they are.  Then, even if I don't get a blog written about a recipe, there's a good record of where it is and hopefully what we thought about it.  

Ok, I'll try this.  

Here's what we have to use up - in a totally random order:
sweet cherries
morel mushrooms
iceberg lettuce
radishes
mortadella
BBQ beef brisket
large baking potatoes
romaine lettuce
corn on the cob
one tomato
fresh peach slices
cucumbers
zucchini
eggplant
tomato puree
small meatballs
cabbage
rotisserie chicken
strawberries
nectarines
kale
fresh garden lettuce and spinach from my friend, Camille
rhubarb


And, here are the cookbooks I've got out either to read or to make something from them:
French, delicious classic cuisine made easy, Carole Clements - not indexed but the list of recipes to try is made
Basic to Brilliant, Y'All, Virginia Willis
Old School Comfort Food, Alex Guarnaschelli
The Silver Palate


Here are the recipes I"m thinking about trying:
steakhouse iceberg tossed salad with radishes and blue cheese - download
shrimp rillettes - Basic to Brilliant
kale salad - recipe in email from my friend Linda
morels and crabmeat - haven't found the recipe that I want yet...
chicken, strawberry and feta salad - saw it and scribbled notes on a sticky note
eggplant parm - can't remember where I found the great recipe but this one I can make up!
muffaletta - I know I've made the olive salad before and am hoping it's on the blog
bbq salad - this one IS on the blog and is printed and ready to go! It's got bbq, corn, beans, cherry tomatoes...  lots of things I've got to use up
meatball subs
cabbage/potato/bacon torte
farro with cherries and nuts and scallions
beet/fresh cherry/fresh mozzarella salad - downloaded this morning
  

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Red Lentil and Kielbasa Stew



Our annual trip to St. Pete Beach.  It's over.  This year I finally rocked the packing the cooler test.  Put all the stuff on the bottom and then pile on and dump 20lbs of ice on top.  We filled the cooler Thursday evening, started back Friday and got here late afternoon on Saturday.  Still with ice in the cooler.  YES!  All the stuff went into the fridge and I was left wondering what in the heck to fix for dinner.  There was a bag of carrots that needed to be used up.  And, some kielbasa.  How about lentils?  How about some nouc cham?  Known in Vietnam as dipping sauce.  How about two different dishes?

A bunch of the carrots got chopped and plopped in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Then, in went a similarly diced onion.  Followed by a couple of links of kielbasa, well diced.  And, about a teaspoon of cumin.  It smelled wonderful!  Once everything was nice and brown I put in a quart of chicken bone broth, a pinch of cinnamon and pepper.  And, a cup of red lentils.  And, half a cup of white wine.  Then, let everything simmer for about 15 minutes.  The lentils were meltingly tender and had absorbed most of the broth.  

The Vietnamese dipping sauce got a handful of chopped carrots and an equal amount of chopped zucchini.  I used a recipe from Hungry Huy and it was delicious!  He goes into a lot of detail about dipping sauce.  

This was a perfect winter meal.  And, best of all, it reheated beautifully for lunches the next week!

Red Lentil and Kielbasa Stew

6 servings

Ingredients

1 T olive oil
3/4 c diced carrots
1 medium onion, diced
1 t cumin
2 links kielbasa, diced
1 c dried red lentils
1 quart chicken bone broth
pinch cinnamon
1/4 t chipotle pepper
1/2 c white wine

Directions

Saute the carrots, onion and cumin in the olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add the kielbasa and saute until everything is a bit brown - about 10 more minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. 





Friday, December 27, 2019

Christmas Eve - the main course

And, we are finally at Christmas Eve dinner!  My niece's kids stole the show.  They're absolutely wonderful kids and are SO much fun to be around!  











Now, here's a sampler plate of most of the food served:




And, here's the menu:

Beef tenderloin
Blender Bearnaise sauce
Creamed spinach
Carrots with orange
Roasted cauliflower
Potato gratin
Yorkshire pudding
Oatmeal bread
Cranberry Sauce
Persimmon pudding

So, let's dig in with a couple of new recipes:

Creamed Spinach



I'd have sworn that I actually blogged about this.  Truth be told there are probably 100 unfinished blogs and it's undoubtedly in that mell of a hess.  This is one that I don't measure but it's so forgiving that that doesn't matter!  BTW - the persimmon pudding is behind the spinach in the photo

Ingredients:

two packages of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
4 oz cream cheese
couple of grates of nutmeg
handful of grated cheese (I used gruyere but swiss would work just fine)
cream

Directions:

Saute the onion in the olive oil.  Add in the spinach and the cream cheese.  Stir until the cheese has melted in.  Add the grated cheese and stir it in.  Pour in cream and stir until it's reached a consistency that you like.  This is easy to make ahead and reheat.  

Roasted Cauliflower

Another dinner party staple for us.  Super easy to pop in the oven and ignore until you're ready to serve it.  Here's the link:  roasted cauliflower

Carrots with Orange

I used a David Rosengarten recipe.  It was very good but didn't beat others we've made so I'm not going to post the recipe. 


Blender Bearnaise Sauce

If you've never made hollandaise or Bearnaise because your'e worried about how fussy it is to make, you're missing out  The blender version isn't quite as fabulous but it's one heckuva lot better than a mix or a jar!  Here's a link to my mom's:  blender Hollandaise.

Oatmeal Bread

Here, I used a Better Homes and Gardens recipe for my bread machine.  Again, it was good but not as good as other breads we've made so I'll not post the recipe.

Cranberry Sauce

I used a Bon Appetit recipe here.  And, I do believe I'll be going back to my old faithful cranberry sauce recipe.  Which I see I've not yet blogged about.  Ok, I need to rectify that since it is incredible! 


Yorkshire Pudding

This was a failure on my part.  I used a Tyler Florence recipe.  They were like hockey pucks.  Well, maybe not that dense but they certainly didn't rise.  Next time I'll work on figuring out where I went wrong...

Potato Gratin



This, in our opinion, was the star of the sides.  I read about a dozen recipes and narrowed my focus down to a Fine Cooking and a Bon Appetit recipe.  Then, I smooshed the two together and wound up with a recipe I'll make again and again.

Ingredients:

4 large russet potatoes
salt
lemon peel - a couple of strips
4 peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T thyme
bay leaf
1 1/2 c cream
2 T butter
1 large shallot, minced
two big handfuls finely grated Gruyere 


Directions:

Mix all the ingredients except for the potatoes, salt and cheese in the cream.  Bring it to boil in a small saucepan.  Remove it from the heat and set it aside for 30 minutes.  



Saute the shallot in the butter and set it aside. 

Peel and slice the potatoes about 1/8" thick.  Put the slices in lemon water for about 15 minutes.  Dry then before using.  I liberally salted them when I had them out on the towel

Shingle the potatoes into a baking dish.  See the photo.  This assures every serving gets some nice, crispy edges.



Fish the bay leaf out of the cream.  Combine the shallots, butter and cream in a blender and blend until the mixture is relatively smooth.  Pour the cream over the potatoes.  Top with the cheese.  Bake them for about 60-70 minutes at 350.





Persimmon Pudding

Last but not least.  This is truly an heirloom recipe.  From my great-grandmother to my grandmother to my mother and now on to me.  It's made to be made with Indiana persimmons.  Here's the link:  
persimmon pudding