December Recipe: Holiday Crudités

Get a huge flat basket, line it with clean dish towels and then large cabbage leaves–overlapping the edges as shown.

You will also need:
Styrofoam cones
(two different sizes not taller than 12”

Aluminum foil

For the snow covered trees:

  • Cauliflower (at least two heads)
  • Cranberries for ornaments
  • Broccoli (to intersperse)
  • Toothpicks (the round ones work better)

The dip:

Large red cabbage
(Hollow out and fill with your favorite dip)

Crudités suggestions:

  • Radishes
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Bell peppers - red and yellow
  • Zucchini sticks

Wrap the cones tightly in aluminum foil.

Trim the cauliflower and broccoli into bite size flowerettes; put a tooth pick into each. Starting from the top of a styrofoam cone, choose a perfect flowerette to crown the tree, pushing down gently till secured, then work down in a circle to cover the cone. Intersperse the broccoli as desired. Ornament with cranberries at the end to help fill in cracks!

Anchor the trees first in the basket (try using a small board with two nails driven through). If that’s too much work...just pack everything tightly. Place the cabbage and dip in the center and then place the trimmed vegetables in groups all around the trees and cabbage.

Fill in any gaps. (Kale works well and really holds up during a party.)

Happy Holidays!!!!

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November Recipe
Black Forest Ham and Eggs Cups
Never took a picture of the finished dish, but this photo shows the ingredients better! Basically this is an assembly dish, no real measuring!

Black Forest Ham
(one 1/8” slice per person from Deli counter)
Creamed Spinach
(use the boil-in-bag kind to save time; one bag per 6 people)
Mushrooms (sauté some sliced mushrooms if you like;
they are a nice addition, but not necessary)

Eggs (one per person
Individual tin tart dishes (see photo)


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the creamed spinach first and sauté the mushrooms if using.

Lightly grease the tins and nestle one slice of ham into each, as shown. Plop about two tablespoons of creamed spinach on to the ham, a few mushrooms and then crack an egg over that.

Bake till eggs are set or to your liking.

If all goes well....you will be able to remove the whole thing from the tin and place on a buttered English muffin or piece of toast! Garnish with parsley and some fresh cut fruit on the plate.

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October Recipe
Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna

3 1/2 lb. Butternut squash,
peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
2 Tablsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 C. heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese,
coarsely grated to yield 1/2 C.
Fresh nutmeg
2 Tablsp. unsalted butter
1/3 C. loosely packed fresh sage leaves; coarsely chop
1 1/4 C. chicken stock
Lasagna noodles, cooked
4 oz. fresh grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 425°

Toss squash with oil to cover, sprinkle with salt. Spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with pepper. Roast till light and golden (about 25-30 min.) Cool.

Reduce oven to 375°. Combine ricotta, cream, yolks, pinch of nutmeg in a bowl. Season with salt.

Melt butter in a small sauté pan - when it starts to sizzle, add the sage and cook until light gold and slightly crisp on the edges ( 3-4 min.)

Mash 1/2 of the squash and add to the sage/butter mixture and stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Begin layering:
First spread 3/4 C. of the ricotta mixtures in a baking dish. Add a noodle layer, then 1/2 the squash, then noodles, then 1 C. ricotta, noodles, squash, noodles, ricotta!

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese; bake for 30 - 35 minutes.

A Fall Treat!

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September 2008
Savoy Cabbage Slaw

An unusual recipe with a weird ingredient that no one will guess! This one is from an Annapolis friend, Martha S.

2 1/2 lbs. Savoy cabbage (not regular cabbage)
5-10 scallions, thinly sliced
Almonds (I use the slivered ones with the little bit of brown on the edges for color) about 1/2 C., and heated in a frying pan until warm and lightly toasted.
1 pkg. of Oodles of Noodles, or Ramen - chicken flavor

Dressing:

Seasoning pack for the noodles
1/2 C. safflower oil
1/4 C. cider vinegar
1/8 teasp. salt
2 tablsp. sugar

Slice Savoy cabbage thinly and combine in a large bowl with the sliced scallions.

Blend the dressing ingredients together (I usually put them all in a Mason jar and shake well) and pour over the cabbage.

Just before serving, crush the dried noodles from the Oodles of Noodles or Ramen and toss with the almonds into the cabbage. This is where the fun begins, the noodles become a crunchy addition that is very pleasing and hard to identify. The next day the noodles will have absorbed some of the moisture from the dressing and will not be crunchy. So for the full effect, wait to add them till just before serving.

Serves 8

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August 2008
Borscht

My friend Dina again!! You have to taste this to believe how good it is. Don’t tell anyone how you made it until after they taste!

1 jar of pickled beets (with or without onion)
1 can of sliced beets
1 can of beef consommé (not broth)

Garnish:
Sour cream, or crème fraîche
Snipped chives or grated orange rind
Put first three ingredients in a blender...with all juice from the beets. Puree! Chill!!!

Dollop either the sour cream or the crème fraîche on top of each bowlful. Sprinkle with either the chives or orange zest!

Serves 4 easily

 This just may become one of your favorite soups!


July Recipe
Fresh Corn Salsa

I made this up when I had some ears of corn left over. I scraped the kernels off of 2 ears and built the rest of the proportions to balance color! The lime juice is critical.

Fresh corn on the cob
1 ripe avocado
1 orange bell pepper
(not a green one, but red would be OK, too)
3 tomatillos
Grape tomatoes
Delmonte’s Pink Grapefruit slices with juice
(refrigerator section of store)
Lots of lime juice (from at least 2 limes)
Jicama - about 2/3 C. diced (for crunch)
Scrape the kernels off of one or two ears of corn on the cob. Put the corn into a mixing bowl.

Squeeze at least two limes (you'll get more juice if they are room temp) and put aside.

Dice the tomatillos, the avocado, the pepper and the jicama. Put into the bowl with the corn and add the lime juice, mixing gently to coat the avocado.

Cut about 1 C. of grapefruit slices in half and add them, also some of their juice.

Mix all gently and chill. Best the first day.

For a great lunch, add some freshly cooked shrimp and serve over lettuce. Try this as a side dish with grilled salmon or chicken.

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June 2008
Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas

This is a good use for left-over roasted vegetables; any kind will do.

1 eggplant sliced about 1/2" - grilled and sliced into strips
1 zucchini or 1 yellow squash- sliced 1/4" and grilled
Portabello mushroom- grill whole and slice
Pesto (see May 2008 recipe)
Fresh mozzarella
Roasted tomatoes (see July 2006 recipe)
Flour or whole wheat tortillas
Just warm the tortillas on both sides in a hot frying pan with a tiny bit of oil, spread with some pesto, layer the veggies and cheese on ONE side and fold over. The warmth will serve to hold the top side down.

Make a few and then before serving reheat then two at a time in the frying pan, flipping once, to melt the cheese. Cut into triangles.

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May 2008
PESTO for every season!

I love pesto sauce, but when the winter comes and fresh basil is hard to find, I have found a great way to satisfy the need!

4 cups of freshly washed and dried basil leaves
1/2 cup pignoli nuts
3 cloves of garlic
3/4 teasp. salt
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Approx. 3/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
In a food processor, put everything but the oil. Pulse a few times to start breaking down the ingredients. Then, with machine running, slowly add the olive oil and stop once to scrape down the sides. Watch the consistency, you may not need all the oil.

Taste for salt; you may need more.

If planning to freeze, eliminate the cheese. After defrosting, add cheese and process again.

WINTER CURE – substitute fresh baby spinach leaves. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

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April 2008
Coconut Jasmine Rice
There is a glimpse of a dish of rice in the photo of the Tagine Chicken dish for March. My friend Diana showed me this trick and I love the results. It tastes extra specially good with the Moroccan dish and any Asian or Mediterranean soup or stew. Just a scoop in the bottom of the bowl, then ladle the main course on top.

Buy a package of Jasmine Rice!

Follow the cooking instructions but substitute Coconut Milk (it comes in a "lite" version), not coconut cream.

Use a full can and measure the rest of the liquid required in water.

Watch carefully to adjust the boiling point because I have found that coconut milk boils differently from water. Use a larger pot than you might think to be safe.

That's it!

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March 2008
Moroccan Chicken with Apricots

Moroccans cook their poultry and meats until they fall off the bones or are fork tender. The conical shape of the tagine lid allows the moisture generated to return to the food and infuse it with flavor. If you do not own a tagine, use a heavy dutch oven. I serve this dish with Coconut Jasmine Rice (see April recipe)

1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 chicken (3 1/2 - 4 pounds),
cut in 8 pieces or use pieces you like most
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint, parsley or cilantro
Heat the oil in the cooker over medium high heat for 2- 3 minutes or until very hot. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken, skin side down, into the cooker and brown well, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate and reserve.

Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the cooker and sauté 2 minutes. Add honey, cinnamon, salt, pepper and turmeric and stir. Cook for 30 seconds. Return the chicken to the cooker and add broth. Cover. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add apricots and raisins and cook for 30 minutes longer. Brown the almonds in the butter in a small fry pan.

Sprinkle the almonds and chopped herbs on top of the chicken before serving

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February 2008
Fresh Spinach Pizza

This recipe is inspired by a great pizza from a local Butler shop.

1 large thin crust Boboli brand pizza crust

(unless you actually want to make your own dough or buy a frozen one... then you are on your own for the crust part)

1 C. of pizza sauce

(I use one pack of the Boboli brand for this, too)

1 fresh mozzarella cheese cut into thin slices

TOPPINGS:

Fresh baby spinach, shredded
(use about 1/2 of a pre-rinsed package)

Roasted red peppers, slivered
(your own if you're up to it)

Sliced mushrooms
( I always use fresh ones and sauté them first with a little salt & pepper)

Garlic! To taste
(either freshly minced, roasted or sautéed)

Olive Oil to sprinkle on top

Pizza stone or firm flat cookie sheet


Heat oven to 425°. If using a stone, place in oven to heat.

On the crust, spread the pizza sauce, then arrange the mozzarella evenly. Cover the whole pie with a thick layer of fresh, shredded spinach. It wilts so don't be stingy. Arrange the red pepper, mushrooms and garlic as desired and sprinkle lightly with olive oil. Slide onto the hot pizza stone and bake for about 12 minutes.

Note: You'll notice in the photo that there are also little cherry tomatoes on top. This is an extra special addition. I slow roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper in a 300º oven for about 45 minutes. A great way to save tomatoes that are beginning to shrivel.

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January 2008
Cedar Planked Salmon

If you grill all year long, this is great!

Salmon fillets
Olive oil
Coarse salt
Fresh ground pepper

Cedar planks for cooking*

* You can find cedar planks in most cooking stores; I bought mine in Williams Sonoma. They were packaged in fours & they were cheap.

MOST IMPORTANT:
Soak the cedar planks you'll need in water for the whole day before using. Weigh them down if necessary.
They must be thoroughly saturated to prevent them burning.
Heat your outdoor grill.
Clean and pat dry salmon fillets; rub lightly with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Brush some oil on the side of the plank you will use (smooth side) place salmon skin side down and put plank directly on to the grill. Close lid and cook for about 12 minutes....longer if more than 4 pieces.
Check often after that for your desired doneness! They cook fast.

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