Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Roasted Carrots with Sorghum Syrup and Caraway

It is no secret that we have been trying to eat better and lose weight. Lofty goals during the time of year when you cannot swing a stick without hitting Valentine's Day chocolates and Easter candy. Supermarket carrots are always a healthy if not mundane and tiresome alternative, but with fresh carrots popping up in gardens and farmer's markets, perhaps they deserve another look.

Carrots respectable fiber content is a key fat-fighting feature, half of which is the soluble fiber calcium pectate. Soluble fiber may help lower blood-cholesterol levels by binding with and eliminating bile acids, triggering cholesterol to be drawn out of the bloodstream. Additionally, carrots have little competition when it comes to beta-carotene. One half-cup serving of cooked carrots has four times the RDA of vitamin A in the form of protective beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is thought to ward off cancer and help to prevent heart disease due to its antioxidant qualities. The National Cancer Institute is studying the entire family of umbelliferous foods, of which carrots, celery and parsley are members, for protective effects. A recent Harvard University study suggests that people who eat more than five carrots a week are much less likely to suffer a stroke than those who eat only one carrot a month.

Yada, yada, yada. Let’s face it; those little carrot nuggets found in every school lunch box are BORING. Carrot soup; blah. But… roasted to bring out the natural sugars, now we may be getting somewhere. Add some sorghum syrup and a few caraway seeds and we are in business.

Sorghum syrup, also called sweet sorghum, is made from juice extracted from sorghum cane plants, which are grown in the Southeastern United States. Sorghum syrup contains no fat, cholesterol or protein and is a rich source of nutrients like manganese, vitamin B-6, magnesium and potassium. This sweet syrup can be used on pancakes, biscuits or as a topping for ice cream. It is sometimes used in baked goods as a substitute for molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup and as a vegan alternative to honey. Caraway seeds add a nice cumin-like warmth to dishes while aiding in digestion and boosting iron and calcium intake.

2 pounds baby carrots
1 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove of garlic, smashed
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup sorghum syrup
¼ teaspoon caraway seeds

Preheat oven and pan to 400°F. Wash and remove tops from carrots leaving 1 inch of greenery on each carrot. (if they have them.) Rub carrots with olive to ensure that they are fully coated and sprinkle with salt and pepper before placing them on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Remove from the heat, and stir in wine, syrup and caraway seeds. Return to the heat, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy.

Drizzle the syrup over carrots and toss to coat. Bake for another 10 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. Transfer to a serving dish and pour pan juices over the top before serving. Have leftovers? Don’t throw them away. They make a much better snack than those orange nugget aberrations.



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Friday, February 15, 2019

Bourbon Butterscotch Blondies

Dare I say it? I can live without chocolate. Now, I am not saying that I don’t enjoy a Godiva truffle or a fudgy brownie from time to time, but I do not crave the sweetened product made from the seed of the tropical Theobroma Cacao tree the way some people do. Yet, like the other members of our family, I do have an insatiable sweet tooth. Enter the interminably adaptable blondie.

Of course, this recipe is nothing new. This easy, one-mixing-bowl recipe was one of the first I attempted as a teenager. Denser than chocolate chip cookies and more complex than brownies, these caramel-flavored bars can be customized to suit any taste. Like Congo bars (which typically contain coconut), blondies can be made with a variety of fillings like nuts, dried fruit, toffee, or any other chunky candy for added texture. Seasonal combinations could include cranberry- almond, mint-chocolate chip or cinnamon-raisin. While blondies aren't usually frosted since the brown sugar flavor tends to be sweet enough, we will let your sweet tooth decide if should add a layer of chocolate ganache or buttercream icing.

  • 1 stick margarine, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 7" x 11" baking dish. Mix the melted margarine with brown sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then bourbon. Add in the dry ingredients; baking powder, salt and flour. Once the batter is well combined, stir in nuts and butterscotch chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until set in the middle. A toothpick It is better to err on the side of caution with the baking time. In my experience, folks rarely complain about a gooey cookie.

Allow the pan to cool on a rack before cutting them. I cut them into 2" bars so it seems that there are more of the scrumptious little treats.

January 25, 2014

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

National Soup Month Seafood Chowder

Soup is one of the oldest forms of food right up there with bread.  Although it was not until the invention of waterproof containers, about 9,000 years ago, that soup came into existence, the fact that an entire month is devoted to celebrating soup is a testament to its continued universal popularity.

Soup can be dated back to about 6,000 B.C. and was first made of hippopotamus (disgusting, eh?). Soup is made by combining ingredients, such as meat, vegetables or beans in stock or hot water, until the flavor is extracted, forming a liquid meal. There are lots of variations on the basic theme of soup, each offering a wide range of nutritional benefits.

Soup, first known as "sop," was originally a piece of bread served with some type of broth. People used to pour sop over a piece of bread or over broken off chunks of bread in a platter allowing it to soak up all the broth and then they would eat it.  As time went by sop was placed in deeper bowls and the liquid became the focal point instead of the bread. In modern day, the word sop is used to define the act of sopping up food. 

Every country in the world has soup recipes and family traditions from long ago so it comes as no surprise that soup is a favorite in most households. We have all been nursed back to health with chicken noodle soup, warmed on a frigid day by a hot bowl of tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and celebrated holidays with green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup.

New England-style chowder is a favorite in our family with the ingredients varying depending on what is fresh at the market and what we have on hand.  This is the basic formula, but don’t be afraid to experiment to create a chowder that will become your own family recipe to be handed down to the next generation.

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¼ lb. country ham or bacon, cut into 1/8-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 6 cups fish or vegetable stock
  • 4 cups russet potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb. (30 count) shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 lb. clams (and juice), chopped
  • 1 lb. cod, skin and bones removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper
  • Old Bay seasoning (optional)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)

Heat a medium skillet over low heat adding enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add ham and cook for 5 minutes and then add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until soft.

In a separate stock pot, bring stock and bay leaves to a simmer. Add diced potatoes and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until just tender.

Add ham and vegetable mixture to the stock pot and stir to mix well. Then add shrimp, clams, and fish, and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Next, add cream and season chowder with cayenne, salt, and white pepper.

Remove the bay leaves and serve hot with parsley and Old Bay seasoning. We put some hot sauce on the table too.


January 21, 2012

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

12 Days of Holiday Cookies

 
There is nothing like the scent of vanilla wafting through the house as
the holiday cookies are baking. We have compiled some of our family favorites for you. 
Simply click on the picture to be taken directly to the recipe!

          

          

          

          
12/12/15

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Save The Pumpkins Hummus

We never seem to notice the humble pumpkin until holiday time, but really, we should. Their beautiful orange exteriors are the perfect complement to the hues of autumnal foliage that signal the harvest season which we honor on Thanksgiving Day. While all are edible, nearly 95 percent of all pumpkins grown in the U.S. are carved into those hallmarks of Halloween: jack-o-lanterns.

In addition to their decorative colors and sizes, pumpkins boast unexpected health benefits as well. Pumpkins are a high-fiber, low-calorie food that's loaded with nutrients including copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. One cup of cooked pumpkin provides more than 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, 20 percent of the recommended vitamin C and more potassium than a banana. Pumpkins also have carotenoids which can help keep skin wrinkle-free and their seeds are filled with phytosterols, which are known for reducing LDL or "bad" cholesterol.



With the current campaigns to reduce food waste trending nationally, perhaps it is time to take those remnants from jack-o-lantern carving and toss them in your morning smoothie or roast them with some cauliflower or broccoli. Roasted pumpkin is excellent when added to rice, mashed potatoes or even macaroni and cheese for an added boost of color and seasonal flavor. If you're looking for a high-fiber snack that's perfect any time of year, just try mixing some roasted pumpkin with some chickpeas to make a super-nutritious dip that's perfect for entertaining.

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
1 cup roasted pumpkin, cubed
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Process beans in food processor until nearly smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add pumpkin, tahini, cider vinegar, garlic and spices and process until smooth, scraping down sides periodically. Tahini adds a subtle sesame flavor and depth to hummus. Don’t have tahini, no worries, you can substitute the nut butter of your choice, add a few drops of sesame oil or leave it out entirely. Once the hummus is full combined and smooth, taste and adjust your seasonings accordingly.

Serve in a pretty bowl and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil and top with some toasted pepitas. A dusting of paprika also makes a gorgeous and colorful garnish.


October 27, 2016

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Labor Day Menu Planner

Stay relaxed while you entertain on this much-anticipated day off with some easy cookout ideas. When it's time to eat, enjoy the fruits of your labor, because that's precisely the point of this lovely summer holiday which won't last much longer! We have put together a list of our favorite Labor Day recipes. We hope they will become your favorites as well!

Just because the summer is winding down, doesn't mean it's time to pack away your grill:

And these chilled sides are excellent accompaniments that can be made ahead:

And what summer party is complete without a frozen dessert?
Lastly, don’t forget something to keep the kids from underfoot and away from the fiery grill. Yard games of bocce, corn hole or horseshoes are always popular and you can NEVER go wrong with bubbles. Try our mixture for the Ultimate Bubble Elixir and get ready for the squeals of delight!

Be safe and enjoy a safe and well deserved three-day weekend! And, don’t forget to designate a driver or enjoy the night air by walking home when possible.


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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ten Ways with Tomatoes

Each January, we find ourselves looking at the pitiful excuse for tomatoes in the produce section of the supermarket, and pining for the plump, juicy treasures still warm from the mid-day sun sliced and sandwiched between two slices of bread. Since their cultivation by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 A.D. and their introduction to Europe during the 16th century, tomatoes are one of the world’s most popular ingredients.

However, many people are unaware how good they can actually be for us. Tomatoes are low in calories and packed with health-promoting nutrients such as vitamins A and C, potassium and the super anti-oxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that supports heart health by reducing the tendency of blood to form clots and promotes healthy cholesterol levels. It's also been found to be a potent hedge against many kinds of cancer. Tomatoes are so incredibly versatile making them crazy easy to incorporate into almost any meal. Here are our top ten:

1. Toss them: Simply toss fresh cherry tomatoes in a salad with fresh crisp lettuces and toss with your favorite dressing. Or, set a pot of water on the stove to cook pasta and place a sauté pan over medium heat. Toss cherry tomatoes in the pan and allow them to slowing cook until they “melt.” Add torn basil, a crushed garlic clove, salt and coarsely ground black pepper and simmer until pasta is cooked and drained. Pour this simple sauce over the pasta and toss. Don’t forget the grated Parmesan cheese.

2. Slice them: There are few things better on the entire planet than a fresh caprese salad! Freshly sliced tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella and just-picked basil leaves; nirvana. Lactose intolerant? No worries… try a Japanese chilled tofu dish called hi-yayakko. Alternate slices of tomato and best-quality sliced tofu, firm or soft. Make a dressing of olive oil, soy sauce, seasoned rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic and a touch of sugar to taste then top with slivered green onions.

3. Chop them: Coarsely chop tomatoes into a mixing bowl, salt them well with about one full pinch per cup and let them macerate for 20 minutes. If you don’t care about seeds and skins, you will end up with firmer, more flavorful tomato dice and a lot of delicious juice waiting to saturate any ingredients you mix with the tomatoes. Add a bit of garlic and fresh herbs and, Presto! – Bruschetta!

4. Grate them: This is my favorite tomato trick of all time. Cut the tomato in half through the equator, pluck out the seeds with your fingers and grate the cut side against the large holes in a box grater set over a bowl. You will end up with a bowlful of gorgeous tomato flesh and a naked skin in your palm within seconds. What do you do with it? I like to keep going with other vegetables and grate cucumbers, peppers and a little onion for a quick, coarse-textured gazpacho that you season with oil, vinegar, salt and fresh herbs.

5. Strain them: Blanch four large tomatoes in boiling water to easily remove skins. Once cooled and peeled, coarsely chop tomatoes in a food processor with a couple of teaspoons of salt. Pour into the chopped tomatoes over several thicknesses of folded cheesecloth in a sieve and drain the excess liquid from the pulp (reserving the liquid.) Use the pulp to make a quick tomato sauce for pizza, pasta or meatloaf. If you’re an epicurean, use the reserved tomato water in a refreshing agua fresca or to make an amazing tomato martini.

6. Juice them: Blanch the tomatoes as above and pureed the peeled tomatoes in a food processor along with a rib of celery, several mini peeled carrots and a bit of chopped onion. Heat the juice until just boiling in a sauce pan and simmer for about 20 minutes. Season the juice with a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. If you prefer a smoother juice, you can strain the puree through a sieve before using it to make the best Bloody Mary ever!

7. Cream them: Start by sautéing a chopped onion in butter in a pot. Add a couple of cloves of minced garlic and four to five big tomatoes that have been chopped. Add a spoonful of tomato paste and three to four cups of chicken or vegetable stock. Add two spoonfuls of raw rice. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, until rice is cooked. Puree in the blender, strain the skins through a sieve and reheat in a saucepan with salt, pepper and a healthy glug of cream or half-and-half. Serve this amazing tomato bisque with garlic bread or a classic grilled cheese sandwich.

8. Freeze them: Remember that tomato pulp from above? Good, now throw four cups of it into the blender with a half cup of cilantro leaves, the juice of a couple of limes and a squirt of your favorite hot sauce. Pour the resulting goop over a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer. Every 20 minutes or so, scrape the frozen edges to the center of the pan with a fork. When you have nothing but red flakes of crystallized ice, you have spicy tomato granita. Place in a covered container and freeze until ready to eat. This makes an fancy and unexpected appetizer or dessert.

9. Roast them: Cut the tomatoes in half through the equator and place cut side up in a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle the top with chopped garlic and any herbs you like along with salt and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 325 degrees F for about two hours, watching to make sure they’re not drying out too quickly. If they’re still very juicy, turn up the heat to 400 and cook for a few more minutes until the juices start to caramelize. Pull the skins off with your fingers and use them as is or mash with a spoon to a nice tomato paste consistency before using.

10. Preserve them: Just like the many other fruits of summer, tomatoes make a wonderful jam. Combine about a pound and a half of good ripe tomatoes (coarsely chopped), one jalapeno or other pepper that has been stemmed, seeded and minced, a cup of sugar, juice of two limes, a tablespoon of grated ginger, a teaspoon of salt and of ground cumin, a big pinch of cinnamon and a small pinch of ground cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes until mixture has consistency of thick jam, Taste and adjust seasoning, and then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep at least a week. This jam can be canning and processed in a water bath and preserved for months.

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Addictive Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Unlike the mushy, odorous green lumps we remember from childhood or the cream smothered version served in fancy-schmancy, yuppy-era restaurants, Brussels sprouts have reached the height of their popularity. We certainly consume our fair share in our house. Whether they are roasted, braised, or served raw, Brussels sprouts are fabulously healthy, not to mention downright tasty.

While Brussels sprouts were believed to have been grown in Italy in Roman times, the modern Brussels sprout we eat today were first cultivated in large quantities in Belgium (hence the name "Brussels" sprouts) as early as 1587. They were introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s and by 1900 were being grown in large quantities in California. With the development of the frozen food industry and improved production techniques, there are currently about 3000 acres of the tiny cabbages currently being grown today. This acreage supplies the majority of the U.S. and Canada (where they are more popular than in the U.S.)

Good quality Brussels sprouts are firm, compact, and vivid green. They should be free of yellowed or wilted leaves and should not be puffy or soft in texture. Those that have perforations in their leaves should be avoided as they may have aphids inside. If Brussels sprouts are sold individually, choose those of equal size to ensure that they will cook evenly. Brussels sprouts are available year round, but their peak growing period is from autumn until early spring.

Keep unwashed and untrimmed Brussels sprouts in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Stored in a plastic bag, they can be kept for 10 days. Before washing Brussels sprouts, remove stems and any yellow or discolored leaves. Wash them well under running water to remove any insects living in the leaves. Brussels sprouts cook quickly and taste best when they have been cut into smaller pieces. If you want to freeze Brussels sprouts, blanch them first for between three to five minutes. They will keep in the freezer for up to one year.

Like cabbage, Brussels sprouts make great raw salads similar to coleslaw. Thin shavings of fresh Brussels sprouts tossed with a lemony vinaigrette topped with sieved boiled eggs, crunchy pistachios and salty grated Parmesan makes a marvelous addition to ANY meal.

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, shaved
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons truffle oil or olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, finely diced or sieved

Clean and trim sprouts and “shave” by slicing as thinly as possible. We've tried using a food processor to shave the sprouts with little luck, but fell free to try it. We also tried the use of a mandolin, but the risk to fingers and the amount of waste were both too great. Patience and a sharp knife are the best tools for this procedure.

Mix sprouts, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper, tasting as you go and adjusting to taste. If you are preparing ahead, set the salad in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

While feta cheese combines with the vinaigrette to make a creamy dressing, cheeses that are dryer, saltier more dense cheese actually work better in this salad. Romano or Parmesan have a nice piquancy that matches well, but we recommend grating it on the largest hole of a box grater.

To serve, lay the sprout “slaw” on a serving platter and top with grated cheese, chopped eggs and pistachios. There is no real need to toss the salad as the ingredients combine as the salad is being served.

One note of caution, this salad can be a bit addictive. There have been arm wrestling matches in our house over who gets to have the leftovers (when there are any). This salad will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days post arm wrestling.
1/20/14

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