Monday, May 23, 2011

Balsamic Brussel Sprouts

So you typically turn your nose up at the thoughts of brussel sprouts? I can't imagine why. This is a wonderful vegetable anytime of the year. Brussel sprouts are just so tasty and healthy. These mini cabbages can sometimes be bitter, but picked at just the right time from your garden, rinsed and steamed in lemon juice just before pan frying them, they are just irresistable. The addition of shallots, shaved garden carrots, some eggplant, garlic and a drizzle of white balsamic are just what this dish needs to complete any meal. I just planted this years sprouts and I'm hoping my yield will be as awesome as last season. From four plants my yields were just fabulous, and once blanched, they freeze up beautifully. Do save some room in your garden for this wonderful vegetable.

Brussel Sprouts & Balsamic

1 dozen brussel sprouts, rinsed, trimmed
juice of 1 lemon
2 TBLS olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, shaved
1 small Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/2 " pieces *opt
1/4 cup vegetable broth
pinch of sugar
2 tsps white balsamic vinegar
sea salt & ground pepper

Peel the sprouts outer leaves off and trim a bit of the ends. If the sprouts are large, halve or quarter them. Steam the sprouts in lemon juice for about 4 minutes in a covered pan. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and add garlic, shallots, brussel sprouts, vegetable broth, seasoning and sugar. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the balsamic--stir, uncover and cook 3 minutes more to combine all the flavors and serve. Enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Simply Baked Haddock

I don't believe we are going to see Spring this year, but rather just hop right on into the warmer summer days. Rain, fog and chilled to the bones is how I've been feeling these past few days. But with the cool temps it gives me an excuse to turn the oven back on.

So last night I made an old standby dish, that's easy and quick to prepare, and one that you just hate to see come to an end. It's that good. Made with fresh haddock or cod, vegetables, grated romano--I know? Cheese on fish? But clearly it works in this dish and topped with an herbed panko crumb crust. If you like fish as much as we do, you're going to love it.

Baked Haddock with Zucchini and Tomatoes

1 1/2 lbs fresh haddock filets
3/4 cup panko crumbs
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots
2 tsp softened butter
2 TBLS fresh thyme leaves, parsley, savory & basil combined
3 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
2 small zucchini, sliced think
grated romano cheese
sea salt & ground pepper
olive oil

Make the herbed panko by processing softened butter,fresh herbs, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper together and tossing it with your crumbs. In an oven proof baker sprinkle some sea salt salt and pepper over each haddock filet. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the fish. Cover the haddock with layers of thinly sliced zucchini and roma tomatoes over each piece. Sprinkle grated romano cheese next and then top with seasoned panko crumbs. Drizzle just a bit of olive oil over all and bake uncovered in a 375° oven for approximately 20 minutes. Bake until the haddock is still a tiny bit opaque in the middle. It will keep cooking when you remove it from the oven. **Remember to not answer the telephone and start a gabbing session with an old friend or your crumbs will begin to singe as mine did from a good yak! ;-) Serve with arugula salad and jasmine rice and enjoy!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rhubarb Muffins

One thing you can always count on coming up in Spring are the croccus--and then there's the rhubarb patch. And this year's rhubarb patch is simply gorgeous. I just love those marvelous leaves in the garden, and those beautiful magenta stalks. I remember as a youngster having the pinkest fingers this time of year. When Mum washed the fresh picked stalks how we'd stick them into the sugar bowl and taste that wonderful tarty flavor. Gosh they were so good! Rhubarb is just so showy in the garden--especially after a new fallen rain. The fruit itself is always a favorite around here. It just pairs so well other sweet fruits... apples, strawberries or blueberries along with a bit of sugar and some cinnamon.

So this week it was rhubarb muffin week. Believe it or not, all of my frozen quarts of strawberries are gone, but being the gal I am, you'll always find blueberries in my freezer so I just subbed those in these crispy topped delights. Perfect for Spring brunch or an on-the-run breakfast.

Blueberry & Rhubarb Muffins

2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup sour cream
4 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup of 1/4-inch diced rhubarb pieces
1/2 cup wild blueberries

For the topping:
3 TBLS granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and whisk to blend.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Lightly stir the sour cream mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula until the batter just comes together, but don't overmix. Gently stir in the diced rhubarb. This batter will be thick.

Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups or six of the jumbo muffin cups. The batter should mound a bit higher than the tops of the cups.

Make the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Sprinkle a generous 1/2 of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over each muffin. And then again five minutes before removing from the oven I like to sprinkle the remaining mixture.

Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown, spring back most of the way when gently pressed, about 18 to 22 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Transfer to a rack and let the muffins cool. Served warm--just yummy! Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Creamy Marscapone Polenta

If I could eat this meal everyday I would!! This is total comfort food to me and I love how flavorful it is. It's finally grilling season and one of the first things I like to cook outdoors is Italian sausage. This time it was sausage with fennel, cheese and garlic, a favorite of mine that went into a pot of sauce--but I swiped a few for our lunch yesterday. With carmelized onions, roasted red peppers, fennel and black olives and served it over a bowl of creamy marscapone polenta--pure comfort!

Creamy Marscapone Polenta
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

* 2 cups water
* 2 cups milk
* 1 cup yellow cornmeal
* 2 ounces Marscapone cheese@ room temperature
* 1/4 c light cream
* sea salt
* white pepper

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and milk to a light boil. Slowly stir in the polenta. Cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes. Stir in the marscapone cheese. Stir in enough of the cream for a smooth and creamy texture. Season with sea salt and white pepper. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Sausage,Onion,Fennel & Peppers Topping

grilled Italian sausage
roasted red peppers, sliced
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thin
3 onions, sliced thin
dried oregano, thyme, rosemary
8 kalamata olives, cut in half
marinara sauce
grated parmesan cheese
fresh parsley, minced

In a medium skillet saute onions, fennel in 2 TBLS olive oil. Once golden, add a teaspoon of sugar and toss well. Add the olives and red peppers, cooking until they go limp. Add seasoning and herbs and cook a few minutes more. Add the previously grilled sausage, turn off the heat and keep covered. Once the polenta is ready spoon it out into a bowl topping it with a ladle of marinara sauce and then lastly the sausage, peppers and onions mixture. Sprinkle generously with grated parmesan and minced fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sweet Potato Salmon Pie

There are so many different versions of this pie out there, but we always enjoyed a version my brother often made. His called for a typical buttery flaky crust, just like my Mom's crust, but I decided to use sweet potatoes and lighten this up a bit. I'm a big fresh sockeye fan here, and serve it weekly and though we seldom eat anything out of a can, this dish was surprisingly tasty, affordable and heart healthy too. Canned salmon is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.

While it’s costing a tad more than it used to, actually a lot more, but hey, what isn't these days? It is still trumping tuna for price where I shop. I’m talking about canned salmon. It’s still within the realm of affordable, can be stocked up on and stored without a freezer, and believe it or not, is remarkably versatile. Canned salmon is pretty much on par with fresh salmon nutritionally, and it costs much less. An affordable option? Alaskan salmon will run you only $4.19 for a 13-ounce can. At least that's what I just paid for some.

And take this to heart-- An Italian study showed that people who eat fresh or canned salmon twice a week were 30 percent less likely to have had heart attacks than those who ate fish less than once per week.

Sweet Potato Salmon Pie

3 cups mashed potatoes
1 onion, chopped
1/4 green pepper, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 13 oz cans Sockeye salmon- drained, skinned and I remove any large bones
2 scallions, minced
white pepper
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
olive oil
dry herbal blend- thyme, parsley, rosemary & savory
smoked paprika

Clean the salmon and add it to the mashed potatoes. Add onions, garlic, peppers, scallions and seasoning.

Peel and slice sweet potatoes and toss in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and the herb blend. Toss the slices well to coat.

In a two quart baker put the salmon mixture, and layer the sweet potato slices in a circular pattern around the top of the pie. Drizzle just a bit of olive oil over all and sprinkle on a bit of paprika. Pop into a 400 degree oven for ten minutes. Then lower oven to 350 degrees and continue baking until just golden brown on top. Enjoy!