Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Eggs Benedict

I’m not a big breakfast eater during the week, eating more on the lighter side. oatmeal, granola, assorted fruits or a muffin, but on the weekends I like a leisurely late breakfast and one of my favorite morning meals is Eggs Benedict. During the warmer months we enjoy going to one of our favorite eateries here, The Merriland Farm where you can simply enjoy a wonderful meal while sitting on the patio among the perennial gardens.. sipping fresh raspberry mimosa’s and all the while you will be having a heck of a time deciding on the breakfast menu.

They serve up a splendid assortment of benedicts, scrumptious omelets, berry laden Belgian waffles, awesome crepes and home made tea breads, made with fruits grown on their own farm. Among my favorites is the Jameison Benedict.. homemade English muffin, poached egg, fresh asparagus, Canadian bacon topped with hollandaise. The farm won’t re-open until early spring here and I’ve just been having a hankering for eggs Benedict, so I made my own Jameison, less the bacon and imagined it was a warm summery morning and I was sitting on the patio enjoying every bit of it. I think I’ll be able to manage the 27 more days left until Spring now :D

Hollandaise sauce is a real treat for me, and my favorite. It’s so simple to prepare and yummy served over fresh asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower. This is an adaption of my Mom’s hollandaise. I like the addition of fresh herbs to the sauce especially if I am making eggs Benedict. This recipe will make about ¾ - 1 cup sauce. You really should serve it immediately, but if you have to hold it for a bit, a double boiler works well, if stirred often.

Hollandaise sauce

·½ cup butter (unsalted) If using salted butter, do not add any salt to the sauce
·3 egg yolks
·1 ½ TBLS lemon juice
·1 TBLS boiling water
·a smidgeon (grains only) cayenne pepper *opt
·finely minced fresh basil, savory, thyme *opt

In a saucepan melt the butter. Don’t let it brown. In a separate bowl beat together the egg yolks, lemon juice, pepper and salt if using unsalted butter. Add boiling water to the beaten eggs..blend well and slowly combine with two teaspoons of the melted butter and beat well with a whisk, allowing it to emulsify. Continue adding teaspoon by teaspoon the melted butter slowly until you’ve used about 4 TBLS or so, whisking in all the while. On low heat cooking the egg/butter mix quickly, about 20 seconds. Keep whisking while cooking. Just as it begins to thicken add the fresh herbs to the sauce and whisk once again. Remove from heat and serve. Enjoy!

Friday, February 20, 2009

If it's Wednesday it must be spaghetti night

It's been a super hectic week here so I was very greatful to have some sauce and meatballs in the freezer and bread dough just itching to be popped into the oven. For dinner last night we had spaghetti and meatballs, garden salad and homemade garlic bread sticks.

The meatballs I usually make up in bulk:

2lbs lean beef
1 lb pork
1 lb veal
2 eggs
parmesan cheese
ground pepper

Prepare the balls and stick them on a cooking sheet and bake 20 minutes until almost done. Add to your sauce pot or bag them and stick in the freezer for emergency dinners like ours last nite :D

The sauce:

2 large cans crushed tomatoes
2 cans tomato paste
2 TBL olive oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed
5-6 basil leaves
good bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt, pepper, 1 TBL sugar
1/2 glass wine

Simmer the garlic in olive oil until just browned. Add tomatoes and let it cook for a bit. Then add tomato paste along with 3 cans water per each tomato paste can. (Total water= 6 tomato paste cans worth) Add herbs, seasonings, wine to the pot and simmer 1 hour.

Slip off your apron, shoes and pour a nice glass of wine for yourself and then relax! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Looking for something a little different? Most know how much I just love eggplant. Prepared in any manner, baked, stuffed, fried.. it's just a great vegetable that's very appealing to me. Roasted, even moreso! And you can't forget that magnificent plum skin that just draws you in when you see it. So after roasting some eggplant I had to wonder what it would taste like in a dip. I often make spinach or artichoke dips, but hadn't considered eggplant.. until now. The ingredients are minimal, preparation a breeze and flavor.. oh so good!

1 medium size eggplant
1 TBLS olive oil
crushed savory, thyme, oregano, rosemary
1/8 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, smashed
3-4 oz cream cheese
sea salt and white pepper

Trim the top of eggplant and slice in half, lengthwise.
Drizzle on the olive oil and sprinkled crushed herbs on top.
Invert the eggplant and place on an ungreased baking sheet and roast at 350 for 45 minutes or until the eggplant is very soft.

Once cooled, scoop out the eggplant pulp and puree in blender or food processor. Add lemon juice, garlic cloves, sea salt, pepper and cream cheese. Blend until very smooth. Chill before serving with rosemary crostini, sliced veggies or top some warm, just out of the oven crusty bread. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Butternut Sage Manicotti

Since I tried my hand at making baked manicotti last year, it's become pretty regular fare at our house. Depending on what I have on hand will determine it's filling. I had some butternut squash that I wanted to use up, so along with these light and tender manicotti shells that are made cooking a batter to form a pasta like crepe, this was a delicious and easy meal to prepare. As I made my crepes I roasted the squash, so it was ready just about the time my crepes had cooled. Before I assembled the manicotti I popped all the ingredients into the Cuisinart and gave it a couple of pulses to combine it well. I decided to top my manicotti with marina sauce, but you could also drizzle with sage butter sauce over assembled manicotti as well and bake.

1 butternut squash, diced and roasted with olive oil, rosemary, sage, savory and
3 Italian sausage, cooked -casings removed
1/4 cup shallots, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 tsp nutmeg
18 oz ricotta cheese
fresh sage leaves
sea salt, ground pepper
marinara sauce
shredded mozzarella

Peel and dice butternut squash into cubes. Place on parchment or foiled lined cooking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and herbs. Roast for 30-40 minutes until squash is carmelized and just tender.

In the meantime, as the squash roasts, sautee Italian sausage meat with garlic, shallots, sea salt & ground pepper.

Prepare your filling.

-18 oz Ricotta cheese
-4 oz mozzarella cheese
-handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
-1 egg
-10 fresh sage leaves, diced

When the squash is finished roasting, combine the squash, sausage mixture, ricotta cheese filling, nutmeg in your food processor. Pulse until just creamy.

Make your crepes.

*Homemade Crepes for Manicotti. Recipe by my friend Maryann at Finding La Dolce Vita

-1 C flour
-1 C milk
-1 egg
-pinch of salt
-tsp ground sage leaves

Beat together all ingredients. Make one crepe at a time, pouring the batter into a hot crepe pan using a shot glass as a measurement.

Move the pan around to form a nice thin crepe. Turn only once, then cool on a floured towel. When the crepes are cool you can fill them with your cheese, squash and sausage mixture.. top with marinara and plenty of shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Farro, Fennel & Beans

I have the hardest time finding farro in our neck of the woods, but after a trip to NH last week I was sure to stock up. Farro is a fave of my family. Who wouldn’t enjoy this delicate nutty whole grain that’s extremely satisfying. An ancient grain rich in fiber, vitamins, very easily digested, that’s low in gluten and is an extremely versatile whole grain. From soups to salads, to risotto like dishes it will heartily fill you up without the calories. It’s just that good! Try some and maybe you can make it a favorite of your family too!

Typically I make this with fava beans, but couldn’t resist the young edamame pods-the young pods of the soybean plant, at the market this week and truthfully.. I just love the pleasant crunch and flavor of edamame to the fava.

8 oz farro
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
½ lb edamame beans-shelled from the pods
1 onion, diced
½ sweet pepper, diced
½ fennel bulb, sliced
a splash dry red wine
2 TBLS balsamic vinegar
olive oil
¼ tsp unsalted butter
sea salt & ground pepper
plenty of fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese

Wah & rinse farro well. In a stock pot put stock, farro, vinegar, olive oil, onion and peppers over medium heat. Once it begins to boil, turn it down to low and simmer for another five minutes. Add red wine, sliced fennel sea salt & ground pepper and continue to simmer another eight to ten minutes.. I adore the color of edamame so I always add them during the last five minutes of cooking… or even add them raw at the end of the cook. Farro should now be well cooked and plump,with liquids well absorbed. Remove from heat. Stir in unsalted butter and top with a generous amount of grated cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!