Monthly Archives: May 2011

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata

More smoked salmon! Back when I sent Grant to the store to get smoked salmon, he was confronted with too many choices, so bought one of each. My point is we had a lot of smoked salmon to use – this easy recipe was a great way to do that.

I also had goat cheese left over, so I combined the two into a delicious frittata – I love the way eggs allow you to use up whatever is in your fridge! Most frittata recipes call for 12 eggs, but I only had 5 … so mine was thinner than normal – honestly, who cares? Let’s just call it healthier.

The combination of salmon, goat cheese and green onions (and chives!) was lovely and we enjoyed wide wedges served with juicy peach slices.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs, beaten with 1/4 c. milk or cream
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon, pulled into pieces
  • 3-4 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Fresh chopped chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Heat large nonstick, oven-proof skillet over medium. Add butter. When sizzling, add onions and cook until translucent, 5 min.

In large bowl (that you perhaps have your eggs and cream in), mix in salt, pepper, salmon, goat cheese, green onions. Pour mixture over onions. Place pan in oven and bake until puffed and cooked through – 40-50 min.

You can serve directly from the pan, or slide the whole thing out and cut on a cutting board. Sprinkle slices with chopped chives.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

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Strawberry Scones

As I mentioned earlier, strawberry season has these fruits coming out of my ears. Strawberry-lobster risotto was one great way to use them, as was the strawberry-rhubarb pie I made last night, the strawberry jam I’m making later this week and these delicious fresh strawberry scones.

Searching for the right strawberry scone recipe, I found that many use dried strawberries, which confuses me. Fresh strawberries create a soft and moist scone that doesn’t resemble the thick, dry variety you can find at Starbucks. And why go dried and extra-sweetened when the real thing is perfect just as it is?

These were so yummy that Grant said they taste like strawberry cobbler – full of berries, and with a crumb that tastes like buttery cobbler. Just fabulous.

Fresh Strawberry Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 c. AP flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • Turbinado sugar, for dusting
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. plain yogurt
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 c. chopped fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 425 with racks in the middle. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In small bowl, combine egg, yogurt, milk and zest. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter and pulse several times, until butter pieces are smaller than peas. Transfer to large mixing bowl.

Add strawberries to flour mixture and toss to coat.

Add wet ingredients to dry and fold together, mixing dough until it just comes together and all flour is hydrated.

Turn dough out on well-floured work surface and pat into large ball.

Cut into wedges or use muffin cutter (as I did), flouring the cutter very well between cuts. Place scones on baking sheet and sprinkle sanding sugar over the top (Turbinado).

Bake until slightly browned on top, about 15 min. Cool on pan a few minutes, then remove to wire racks.

Scones are best served slightly warm.

You can just see how tender and sweet they are from the pictures. Wonderful! Big thanks to my mom for helping me out – I was at Grant’s cabin when I wanted to make these, without Internet, so a quick call to mom got me the dictated recipe.

And the scones matched these pretty poppies we got at the farmers’ market on the way home!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

I’m in the middle of a blog purge. Going through old blog posts and deleting the ones with bad pictures, or no pictures, and updating my favorites. Here lies the latter.

Smoked salmon eggs Benedict is a wonderfully decadent breakfast or brunch item that I try to enjoy once per year. Don’t even ask if I make my own Hollandaise sauce (I don’t).

It is an adaptation of a breakfast item I had all the time when I lived in Oregon, at The Victorian Cafe in Bend. This place is famous for its eggs Benedict, notably this beauty.

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

Ingredients (for two):

  • 2 English muffins, split
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon (the flaked kind, not the lox kind)
  • 1 package dried Hollandaise sauce, (you’ll need milk and butter for this)
  • 1/4 red onion sliced thin
  • 1 T capers, divided
  • Paprika, for garnish

Heat broiler for muffins and set large pan of water to boil on stove. When water heats to a rolling boil, add a dash of vinegar, if you have it, and reduce heat a bit. Drop in eggs one at a time and swirl water to keep whites together. Gently nudge eggs to keep them from sticking on the bottom. Cook until desired runnyness – I like mine very runny in the middle, about 5 min.

While the eggs cook, prepare the sauce according to package instructions (will take just a few minutes) and toast your muffins under the broiler.

When eggs are done, drain on paper towels and cover with foil to keep warm. Now, quickly assemble: On each muffin half, place a few slices of onion, then salmon, then egg. Next, pour the sauce all over it and then sprinkle a few capers on top. Finish with a dusting of paprika.

Deeeelish! The Hollandaise has a nice lemony kick to it, and the capers add a salty bite, along with the onion and smoky salmon. When you cut into the egg, the yolk will run out and swirl with the sauce in an oh-so happy way.

The English muffin is just there to soak up all the yummy juices.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Greek Couscous Salad with Roasted Chicken

Good lord I love couscous. Perhaps as much as I love its long-legged cousin, pasta. A simple vehicle for great flavors and seasonings. My friend Krissy recently transformed couscous into a delicious Greek-inspired salad that I have since made twice and call it my favorite fresh hot-weather meal. Because when it’s in the 90s, with 90% humidity, you just want something that can be served chilled. With a tall glass of iced tea or white wine.

Nothing satisfies more than crisp cucumber, juicy tomato, sweet basil, crumbly feta and the crunch of spring onions.

I found these cool purple spring onions at the farmers’ market, and they tasted a bit sharper than a shallot, but the greens were like scallions.

Really, any onion will do. Krissy made hers with store-bought rotisserie chicken, which is wonderful. I, however, was feeling cheap, so I roasted my own chicken.

Please see this recipe as just a loose representation of something I created adding a bit of this and a splash of that. Go on, do the same!

Greek Couscous Salad with Roasted Chicken

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  • 2 or 3 split chicken breasts, with skin (you’ll have leftovers, so just roast all of it)
  • EVOO
  • Kosher salt, pepper
  • Cooked couscous (made using 1 c. uncooked couscous, but made with chicken stock instead of water – follow package instructions)
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 small cucumber or half large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/3 c. sliced red onion, shallot or spring onions
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 c. chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 c. EVOO, whisked with 4 T fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons) and pinch S&P.

Preheat oven to 425 and line baking sheet with foil. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until skins are crispy and chicken is just cooked through, roughly 30 min (gah! I didn’t pay attention to the time! I just waited until I could smell it and the skin was golden, then I took it out and sliced into a thick portion, revealing clear juices and tender meat. Perfect!).

Meanwhile, prep all your veggies and cook the couscous. Add cucumber, tomato, onion, basil and feta to a medium bowl. Pour vinaigrette over and set aside.

When couscous has cooled to room temperature, add it to the vegetable mixture and toss to incorporate (hot couscous will melt the feta).

When chicken is done, allow to cool 15-20 min., then slice away from bone and into chunks. To serve, spoon couscous salad onto plates, then top with chicken. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, few cracks of pepper and a sprinkling of flaked sea salt.

This is so delicious. All the different textures scream SUMMER! We ate ours outside on the newly beautified front patio, just before the hot winds blew in a thunder storm.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Lobster and Strawberry Risotto

Can you spot the lobster peeking out from under the bright red berries?

It is strawberry season, and one day, Grant came home with way too many strawberries. We have had strawberry daquiries, strawberry-spinach salads, I’m making strawberry ice cream, strawberries over angel food cake, strawberry scones … how many ways can I use strawberries without its BFF, rhubarb? (Yankee food, btw)

A weird combination of seafood and fruit resides in this blog. And it somehow works. I never thought of strawberries as acidic, but in risotto, they provide the same juicy acidity that a tomato might, folded in just at the end. And with lobster? Who would have thought?

I found this first at Homerun Ballerina, where the blogger said she’d had similar dishes in other restaurants – lobster pairs well with fruit and slowly cooked rice, I guess.

While I did have fresh lobster, I wouldn’t cook it so long next time. I might sear it in butter at first and then stir in at the end, so it doesn’t get too overcooked. Either way, the lobster is a nice, sweet complement to the strawberries and savory risotto mixture.

Adapted from Homerun Ballerina:..

Lobster and Strawberry Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 2 lobster tails, thawed and pulled from shells using sharp scissors, then chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced into chunks
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of arborio rice
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 T unsalted butter for the end

Bring chicken stock to a boil and then lower to simmer.

Heat large skillet over medium and add butter. Once sizzling, add onion and cook until transparent. Add lobster and cook 30 seconds. At this point you could remove the lobster to add back in at the end, but I just left it in (and it got a bit overcooked). Add herbs and spices. Add your rice and stir to coat, 30 sec. Add wine and stir until absorbed, then turn heat to low. Add simmering chicken stock by the ladle-full, stirring constantly until absorbed. Keep adding liquid and stirring until rice just loses its grainy middle but is not mushy, about 20-25 min (You may not use all your stock).

Off the heat, add the last Tablespoon of butter and strawberries. Season to taste and serve!

Homerun ballerina has you stirring in mascarpone at the end, but I chose not to. I even think a little shaved Parm would be good at the end. Very fun, and I love how the lobster is the same color as the strawberries!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Leek and Blue Cheese Toasts

The tender leek. Scrub it clean, toss it into a hot pan with melted butter and olive oil, season with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg, then sizzle it with a dash of white wine and cover. Twenty or so minutes later, you have a soft, sweet vegetable that just wants you to love it.

I simply love the simple leek. And here we have a new way for me to love it. Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe: bruschetta topped with softened leeks and smoky blue cheese – a wonderful appetizer that doubles as an entree with a simple salad.

I added wine and nutmeg to this dish and can’t wait to try it with goat cheese.

Leek and Blue Cheese Toasts

Ingredients:

  • 3 big leeks, sliced into half moons and rinsed well
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing toasts
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine
  • Pinch of fresh nutmeg
  • 6 medium slices of sourdough bread or baguette
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • Few drops of lemon juice (1/4 lemon)

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium. Once hot, add butter and olive oil and add the leek slices. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, a few grinds of black pepper and nutmeg. Add wine, then reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and cook until tender, about 20-30 min. Preheat broiler.

While leeks cook, brush bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Run under broiler until lightly toasted (next time, I’ll toast both sides). Divide leeks among toasts. Sprinkle with cheese, then run under broiler again until the cheese has just started to melt. Add a few drops of lemon juice.

Serve immediately.

My god, this is good. The leeks are buttery and have just the tiniest bit of onion flavor; the perfect base for blue cheese crumbles.

Biting down, you first are hit by the blue cheese, then the leeks mellow everything out and the bread is just crunchy enough to hold everything together. Lovely.

I really will be making these for every appetizer-and-wine party I attend in the future.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Goat Lady Dairy Dinner

There’s something very cool about being involved with your food – farm-to-table style. The local food movement is growing strong here in North Carolina, where our long, warm growing season makes it an ideal place for locally raised veggies, herbs and animals who lead happy lives (until the end).

I’ve long been a fan of Goat Lady Dairy (@GoatLadyDairy), which is in Climax, N.C., but distributes to specialty stores, restaurants and farmers markets throughout the state. Their marinated goat cheese is to die for, and the smoked goat cheese is smooth and lovely. But it wasn’t until recently that I knew they offered tours of their farm and dairy AND a five-course dinner!

Thank you to my Twitter friend @dancindeac, who posted this about it, and got the Goat Lady Dairy Dinner on my radar. I immediately visited the website and requested a dinner spot for their next available dinner (had to book a month out!). It requires some planning and is kinda pricey ($60 each), but that’s still less than I’d spend at a nice restaurant.

Last weekend, Grant and I enjoyed what he said was one of the best dining experiences of his life. It was the most perfect Sunday – sunny, warm, not humid and everything was green and beautiful. We drank wine, relaxed in wooden rocking chairs on a big front porch, walked through the organic vegetable garden, petted the friendly goats, met new friends and learned all about sustainable agriculture.

Here’s a picture of the bee hive – local honey, yum!

Relaxing by the little pond.

Appetizers on the porch included creamy salmon spread with dill on homemade olive oil crackers. It was wonderful.

Soon, the owner rang the big dinner bell to let us know that the farm tour was about to start.

The kids were fun to watch – playful as big puppies, running up and down their little perch.

I couldn’t believe how friendly the animals were. You could tell they were hand-raised with care. Seems the goats I’ve seen at past petting zoos were skiddish and grumpy.

We also visited the chicken coop ruled by a very cocky rooster and collected the still-warm eggs, colored white, blue and brown.

When we settled inside for dinner, our first course was wine and cheese. The wine was from a local vineyard, paired perfectly with the artisan goat cheeses.

Next, soup! Ginger sweet potato with citrus and yogurt. I devoured mine.

Then, we had a mixed-greens salad with a goat-buttermilk dressing. The entree was whey-fed pork and pasture-raised beef meatloaf stuffed with smoked goat cheese and kale on a creamy thyme and turnip puree. The pork and beef were raised on a farm across the street from Goat Lady Dairy, and all the veggies were grown on the farm (or nearby). You really could taste all the love and care. I picked the chef’s brain afterward about making my own cheese-stuffed meatloaf. I’ve never had meatloaf that good!

Finally, dessert! Fresh strawberry and balsamic napoleons with shortbread and mascarpone cream. The strawberries were picked from a farm a mile away, btw. Strawberries plus shortbread plus balsamic? YES.

After dinner, they served decaf coffee and goat-cheese truffles. The dinner was very long – we left at about 9:30 p.m. for the hour-long drive home. Totally worth it, though.

I highly recommend that everybody visit the Goat Lady Dairy for dinner. I can’t wait to come back when I have company in town!

Read another review of the farm/dinner from local blogger Foodie Fresh here.

Roasted Potato Chips

While hosting a barbecue recently, I racked my brain for a starchy side dish that doesn’t at all resemble potato salad or your typical potatoes au gratin/scalloped/baked/etc. A potato isn’t just potato when treated correctly, and I wanted something special.

I found it on Smitten Kitchen, where she adapted a Martha Stewart recipe, claiming it to be the best thing since scalloped potatoes – a mix between roasted potatoes and potato chips. I had to try it!

And so was the next chapter of my not-waiting-for-marriage-to-buy-cooking-tools novel. I bought myself a mandoline. Finally! It was only $9.99 and does everything I could ever need it to do. And it’s small enough to fit in the cupboard, which is great because my cozy country kitchen is short on space these days…

I chose to use the Martha Stewart recipe instead of SK, because it’s quite easier to follow. One big change I made was using all Yukon gold potatoes instead of russet. Why would you ever use russet when you can use Yukon gold? This change made the dish creamier and less crispy on top, but I preferred it that way.

Please watch your cooking time carefully – I had to play with mine to accommodate other dishes (ribs!), so just test the potatoes for doneness. The crispy tops will stick to your teeth and the bottoms will be tender, which is an interesting texture combination.

Roasted Potato Chips

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 shallots, thickly sliced lengthwise
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine butter and oil. Brush bottom of a round 9-inch baking dish with some butter mixture. With a mandoline, slice potatoes very thinly crosswise.
Arrange potato slices vertically in dish. Wedge shallots throughout. Sprinkle with salt and red-pepper flakes; brush with remaining butter mixture.
Bake 1 1/4 hours, then add thyme straight on top.

Bake until potatoes are cooked through with a crisp top, about 35 minutes more.

Yum! You will smell the shallots roasting away with those taters, and the herbal thyme is lovely. It tastes just as rich as a scalloped potato (okay, nearly) but is lighter and unique to other potato preparations.
It wooed my crowd, as I’m sure it will yours. Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

This classic French dish is traditionally made with a whole chicken and lots and lots of time. But my friends at Cook’s Illustrated created a streamlined version that is my new favorite chicken dish.

You start by brining the chicken, ensuring that it is well seasoned and juicy (you will thank me). Then you roast a ton of  garlic with shallots. Next, you sear the chicken and then add it to the garlic mixture along with some fresh herbs.

The result is a wildly flavorful dish, with crispy-skinned chicken that is juicy and tender, and a rich and creamy sauce full of buttery garlic cloves and caramelized shallots. I mean, you could eat a whole loaf of bread just sopping up the juices. That good! The wine does something brilliant and the fresh herbs … ahhhh.

Don’t worry about being overpowered by the garlic. The roasting method, and later simmering, removes the hot bite and renders it soft and smooth and sweet. You’ll love it.

I’ve adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated, making it even easier for the home cook.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • One 3.5-4 pound chicken, butchered (or, as I did, buy two split chicken breasts, 4 drumsticks and 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs – cheaper than a whole organic chicken at Whole Foods and you don’t have to cut up a whole bird!)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 medium heads of garlic, outer paper skins removed, cloves separated but unpeeled
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 3/4 c. dry white wine
  • 3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 400. Dissolve 1/4 c. salt in 2 quarts of water (8 c.) in large container. Submerge chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate 30 min. Remove chicken from brine, rinse, pat dry. Season both sides with pepper.

While the chicken brines, roast the garlic. My herb garden is growing like crazy so I was happy to snip some thyme and rosemary for this dish.

Combine garlic, shallots, 2 tsp EVOO, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a pie plate. Cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 min., shaking the pan once halfway through. Uncover, stir and continue to roast, uncovered until browned and fully tender, 10 min. more, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and increase oven temp to 450. The smell of the roasting garlic and shallots is intoxicating!

Heat remaining 1 tsp EVOO in large oven-safe skillet over medium-high. Brown chicken, skin side down, until golden, 5 min. Flip and brown the second side (do in batches if you are slim on room). Transfer to large plate and pour off the fat from the skillet. Off the heat, add the wine, chicken broth, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf to skillet, scraping up any browned bits. Set skillet over medium heat, add garlic mixture and return the chicken, skin side up, nestling on top of the garlic cloves. Place skillet in oven and roast until cooked through, 160-165 degrees. Remove from oven.

If your chicken isn’t nicely toasted on top, you can quickly broil it at this point, but I found that my chicken got TOO dark, so use your judgment. Next time, I won’t broil.

Cook’s Illustrated asks you then to go through a whole additional process of straining the juices, but I say just pour everything over the chicken when you serve.

Squeeze out the soft garlic cloves and spread them on a crusty baguette as you eat – it’s simply wonderful.

A wonderful dish to entertain with, as I probably will next time!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Pear and Prosciutto Salad with Mint and Anise

It all started at my favorite place to shop: Costco. Most people know me as the one who gets overly excited by Costco and its high-quality foods in large quantities and discount prices. I think it’s because I’m from Costco’s home turf – Kirkland, Wash. is right outside Seattle, so everyone in Washington State feels a little ownership over our big-box baby.

On a recent trip, I spotted nearly a pound of prosciutto (domestic, alas) for $8. We all know it costs more than $20 per pound at the regular grocery store. I bought it, then regretted it because how could I possibly eat that much prosciutto by myself?

Oh, friends. Of course I could!

First, I made this wonderful dish that I adapted from Bon Appetit. Juicy, ripe pear is drizzled with a light anise-seed vinaigrette and mint. Then, you layer ribbons of prosciutto on top and add extra mint (clipped from the garden, naturally). It’s a new twist on the melon-prosciutto combination that so many people love.

The mint adds a fresh brightness and the anise seed give you a little crunch of delicate licorice flavor (but not too much, because I hate licorice).

Pear and Prosciutto Salad with Mint and Anise Seed

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons good pear nectar (or juice)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon aniseed, lightly crushed (I just pinched between my fingers)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced fresh mint, divided
  • 1 unpeeled very ripe pear, halved, cored, each half cut into 6 wedges
  • Thin prosciutto slices

Whisk oil, nectar, vinegar, and aniseed in small bowl; stir in 1 tablespoon mint. Season to taste with salt. Arrange pear wedges on plates; drizzle vinaigrette over. Top with prosciutto. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon mint.

A lovely snack or first course to enjoy in the back garden or front porch. I believe we enjoyed ours with a crisp white wine.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo