Monthly Archives: April 2011

Asparagus, Melon and Mozzarella Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

Brunch with my girls – all gussied up in springtime dresses with light cardigans to protect against the breeze, new pedicures shining under out-from-hibernation sandals and plates of delicious fare to celebrate the season.

I’m lucky to have so many foodie friends who go all-out for a simple ladies’ brunch. Miss Valentine brought homemade orange-cranberry scones with English clotted cream and raspberry preserves…

Erika brought bacon-leek quiche, Lindsay brought tea cookies and Seton made brown-sugar bacon and poured spicy Bloody Marys and orange-mango mimosas.

What did I make, my friends? A fresh salad of roasted asparagus, sweet cantaloupe, fresh mozzarella, crispy proscuitto and toasted pine nuts. All tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. I adapted the recipe from Giada di Laurentiis, for your pleasure:

Asparagus, Melon and Mozzarella Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 small cantaloupe (about 12 ounces), peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss asparagus with salt, pepper and 2 T EVOO. Roast 7-8 min, until just tender but still with a bite. Set aside to cool and reduce oven to 350.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the prosciutto in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until crispy. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the melon and mozzarella cheese and toss until all ingredients are combined.

Arrange the asparagus on a platter. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the melon and mozzarella cheese on top of the asparagus. Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette over the top. Crumble the prosciutto over the top, then pine nuts.

Finally, serve to your lady friends!

This was a nice combination of flavors. A twist on the classic melon-prosciutto appetizer. I normally hate melon (because I’m a closeted picky eater), but this was so pretty, I couldn’t help but enjoy it.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Bacon and Leek Risotto with Wild Mushrooms and Poached Egg

Bacon and leeks. One of my favorite combinations of flavors – whether that’s baked into a quiche or tart with Gruyere or mixed into a creamy risotto. Here, I added wild mushrooms, which gave it an extra nutty flavor once they browned in the bacon fat. I also added a few grates of nutmeg, because it goes so well with leeks.

The photos don’t do this dish justice. And word to the wise, don’t skimp on the bacon. Use the thick, butcher-shop kind for the best flavor.

I told you I had more runny-egg dishes up my sleeve…

Adapted from Bon Appetit.

Bacon and Leek Risotto with Wild Mushrooms and Poached Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice (about 10 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh Italian parsley leaves (for garnish)
  • Additional finely grated Parmesan cheese (for garnish)
Preparation
Bring large skillet of water just to simmer over medium-low heat. Sprinkle water with salt. Working with 1 egg at a time, crack into small bowl and slide egg into simmering water. Cook eggs until whites are cooked through but yolks are still runny, 3 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, carefully transfer poached eggs to medium bowl filled with ice water. DO AHEAD Eggs can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate in same bowl of ice water.

Bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan; cover to keep warm.

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Add mushrooms to drippings and saute 2-3 min, until browned. Drain on paper towels. Add leeks to drippings in pan; cook until soft but not brown, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer 2 generous tablespoonfuls leeks to small bowl; reserve for garnish. Add rice to pan; stir 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup warm broth to saucepan; stir until broth is absorbed. Repeat adding broth and stirring until rice is tender but still firm to bite and sauce is creamy, stirring almost constantly, about 23 minutes total. Add bacon, mushrooms, chopped parsley, butter, and 2 tablespoons cheese. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, heat poached eggs in medium skillet of simmering water just until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide risotto among bowls. Top risotto in each bowl with poached egg. Sprinkle egg with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley leaves, additional cheese, and reserved leeks.

Sugar and Spice

Introducing Sugar, the new family member!

He’s a shelter cat who loves to be petted, is docile and sweet and just about the most loving creature I have set eyes on.

Cats look so comfortable when they’re lounging around all day … with at least one green eye always open just enough to keep tabs on everyone.

xoxo

Chicken and Dumplings

Whenever I think of chicken and dumpling soup, I think of a round and rosy-cheeked grandmother wearing a big white apron and a permanent smile. It must be the simmering chicken broth that makes me think of warm kitchens. Broth rolling with bubbles of carrots, celery, onion and garlic with thick shreds of chicken all under spoonfuls of dough bobbing on top.

Not to be obnoxious, but this was the most home-made of any soup I’ve created. But it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to use chicken and potatoes from a lemon-garlic roast bird you made earlier in the week, or use chicken stock made from roasted chicken bones. But we both know it’s better when you’ve invested the time, and love, into the dish.

I jazzed up my broth with cinnamon, nutmeg and citrus. I know it sounds weird, but those additions give it a unique warmth. My mom actually gave me the dumpling recipe, which uses buttermilk (something I had left over in the fridge), so they were extra soft and tangy.

I highly recommend this soup on a cold day – better than regular old chicken noodle.

Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. chopped celery hearts
  • 1/3 c. chopped peeled carrots
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 qt. (2 boxes) chicken stock you’ve made with lemon, parsley, thyme and bay (or use the boxed variety and add the aromatics to the stock as it simmers)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 grates fresh nutmeg
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1-2 c. shredded chicken (or 1 lb. raw chicken)
  • EVOO
  • S&P
  • Handful cilantro, chopped

Heat 1 T of EVOO in soup pot over medium until hot. Add celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Stir 4-5 min. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer (this is where you’d add the aromatics if you didn’t make your own stock). Add the shredded chicken, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon and reduce to simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, make dumplings:

Mix 1 c. flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Cut in 2 T chilled butter (I actually forgot this step but it was still good – go figure!) until it looks like coarse meal. Add 1/2 c. buttermilk and mix until wet ball comes together ( I just used a wooden spoon), adding a dash more buttermilk, if needed.

Drop dough into soup by rounded tablespoons. Simmer uncovered 10 min., then cover and simmer 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, stir 3 T flour into 1/4 c. milk until smooth. When dumplings are done, whisk in milk/flour mixture until broth thickens, about 1 min.

Spoon into bowls and top with chopped cilantro.

Yum! Does’t it look kind of like matzo ball soup?

Enjoy, friends! xoxo