Sunday, April 8, 2018

Fresh Spinach Pesto

Inspiration to cook, is everywhere!

As a Christmas gift for Craig, I joined us up for a winter CSA (community supported agriculture) at a local urban farm, 47th Avenue Farms, here in Portland.  It’s been amazing, and reminds us of the old CSA we belonged to, in the Seattle area.  Everything is fresh and grown locally, unlike a few we have tried. (Where they still had stickers on the fruit)

Anyhow, it’s been a challenge to get through a lot of the potatoes and carrots.  Living with a “part-time” vegetarian, as I call him, you would think potatoes wouldn’t be an issue, but my husband doesn’t care for them. We both like carrots, but really it’s hard to get through 2lbs a week!  (Might make a curried carrot soup?) 

Anyhow, last week we got 3 large bunches of spinach.  And I have been dying to try spinach pesto.  So yesterday, I cleaned, de-stemmed and dried all of the spinach, got out my new food processor, and went for it!

Here is the recipe for the pesto, and below it, is how I made the pasta dinner.

SPINACH PESTO













INGREDIENTS
2 to 3 cups packed fresh baby spinach
½ to 1 cup mixed fresh parsley &basil
2 to 3 cloves garlic; whole or minced
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
½ to 1 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil + more if needed
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt & pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine the spinach, parsley, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil (I used about a cup) into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly combined. Add the parmesan and pulse again. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve:
Cook pasta according to directions.
Reserve about 1 cup of the hot pasta water.
Scoop about ½ cup of the spinach pesto over pasta, mix and add in a small amount of the hot pasta water.  The hot water will melt the pesto slightly and coat all of the pasta.
Gently toss to combine.
Top with slices of grilled chicken, if you like. 

Blue Cheese and Green Onion Scones

A few years ago, I was watching a tv show, specifically Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, when a blue cheese scone flashed across the screen.  I was like, I must have that.  Well, I have no intention on going to Minneapolis to visit Colossal Café, just to get a scone.  So I searched and searched, and like everything else, I got distracted and the years passed, until yesterday when the episode aired again (probably for the 300th time, you all know tv programming!) and I did a quick search, and low and behold, there it was.  “Ahhhhhhhhh”, is what I heard.  I also noticed, I (thought) I had everything to make this savory treat.  So early this morning, I decided to attempt to make these.

While I was inspired by the original recipe from Bess at Colossal Café, but alas, I did not have all of the ingredients.  Here is my version….and I have to say they turned out awesome!



Blue cheese green onion scones 

Ingredients
22 ounces all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon rosemary salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 ounces very cold butter, diced
4 ounces blue cheese crumbs
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 bunch chopped green onion
3 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cup sour cream

Directions
Preheat the convection oven to 350°F.

Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine. 

Using a pastry blender, gently blend in the diced butter into the dry ingredients. Add the blue cheese, parsley, and green onions. 

Mix together the eggs and sour cream. Make a well and add in half of the egg/sour cream mixture. Fold until just holding together, adding the remaining egg/sour cream mixture as needed. 

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop 3-ounce portions of batter onto the paper. Bake for 22-28 minutes, until firm and golden.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Turkey Croquettes

Aren’t we all looking for a way to repurpose left overs?  I start searching for weeks before Thanksgiving to ensure that we can use every bit of the food I make for Thanksgiving.  My husband is from the south, so we always have a few “classics”, and well as some twists on traditional fare.  

 

I started this year, by making my own Cranberry Orange Sauce, which I split between our house and my sisters, unknowing that at her house there was a contest!  I tied for 1st place!!!  At our house, I heard, “that’s nice, where’s the canned.  Win some lose some!  I also handmade rolls!   



We always have turkey, there’s no redirecting that ship!  We did buy a Farmer’s market turkey (Small fortune, but VERY good!!! We’ll stick with our .47 from our local grocer!) 



Gotta have mashed potatoes, and gravy, this isn’t a time of year to play around with a new mashed recipe, go with the standard, don’t mess it up! (Although, I did use my Instant Pot, and added garlic….don’t tell!)  

 

As for other sides, the green ones, I have free range on.  Typically I go with Brussels Sprouts, but I wasn’t feeling it this year, so I went with Fresh, “Frenched” Green Beans.  It’s truly the ONLY way to eat them!  



Now on to the Starches!!!  We always have a Turkey CornbreadDressing and Sweet Potato Casserole.  For the TurkeyCornbread Dressing, I’m told there is a recipe, but have yet to see it.  I know most of what goes into it, but mine is never the same.  Years ago, Craig’s mom came for a visit, and cooked us Thanksgiving dinner while we were working, and placed all of the “nasty’s” (Giblets and such) in the corner of the dish, stating “didn’t know if ya’ll liked those”  We promptly cut out that corner and tossed it.  One day I’ll be trusted with the recipe….it’s only been 17 years….got a few more to go!  



My favorite is the Sweet Potato Casserole.  Some may like the marshmallow topping of the “traditional”, but ours is much smoother, and tastier.  I’ve mashed, riced and this year, pureed the sweet potatoes.  They came out more like a soufflé.  Then we add toasted pecans, coconut and a few other delights.  Top it with a brown sugar crust….YUMMMEEEE!! 



So that brings me to my post. For leftovers, over the years I’ve tried Turkey Soup, Turkey Salad, Turkey Egg Rolls, and a slew of other items, but nothing compares to my Thanksgiving Croquettes.  While there’s really no recipe, it’s more of a technique.  I will include what I did, but please take advantage of what you have leftover to make these delicious treats!  We also tried to air-frying them. Craig said that style was his favorite.


Let’s not forget dessert!  Pecan Pie Cheesecake  






Turkey Croquettes


Ingredients:

1 Cup cooked  Turkey, diced

1 Cup cold mashed potatoes

1 Cup cold dressing (Stuffing, or whatever you call it!)

2 stalks celery, diced

2 stalks green onion

2 Eggs, beaten

Bread Crumbs, as needed

 

For Coating:

1-2 Eggs, beaten

Panko

Oil, Canola, or Peanut (high heat)

 

Directions:

Mix together the Turkey, potatoes, dressing and vegetables.  Add in the beaten eggs.  If the mixture is too loose, add small amounts (1/4 cup) of bread crumbs until “tightened up”.  Roll mixtures into equal sized balls.  I use an ice cream scoop to portion out the same sizes.  While I’m rolling the balls, I make sure that my oil in heating up.  If your using a fryer, heat to 350F.  If you’re using the store top, make sure you have a high heat thermometer, and set the to 350F.  Once the balls are rolled, you will dip them one at a time into the beaten eggs, to coat, then into the Panko.  Coat 5-6 at a time.  Carefully drop 4-5 balls into the oil, one at a time.  Wait until they are golden brown, and remove.  All items are fully cooked, so you’re just warming them up.  If you would like to temp them, aim to get them to 140-150F.

 

We eat them plain, but you could totally dip them in a cranberry sauce, warm or cold, Gravy, warm or cold, or ranch…..for that matter whatever strikes your fancy!

 

If you’re feeling guilty for the heavy food, lighten them up with a green salad!

 

 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Beef Roll ‘em Ups

When I was growing up, my grandma used to make Beef Roll ‘em Ups. I always loved unrolling these little “gifts”. She always made them in a pressure cooker.  When she passed, my dad took over making these, but mom was always scared of pressure cookers, so dad made them in a crock pot.  Still good, but we all missed Grandma’s version.  A few years back I saw an automatic pressure cooker, and told Craig, “this is what I want for Christmas”!  He did a ton of research and decided that Instant Pot was the only brand to buy.  That Christmas Day, I made my first dinner, and fell in love with that pressure cooker.  The real reason I wanted a pressure cooker, was to recreate my Grandma’s recipe.

 

Because Craig doesn’t eat beef, I had to make them when he was out of town.  Here is my version of my Grandma’s recipe for Beef Roll ‘em Ups, for the Instant Pot:


Beef Roll ‘em Ups

2lbs Flank Steak

1 clove garlic

1 tsp salt

1/4 t pepper

4-6 bacon strips

4-6 pearl onions

1/2 c flour

8 oz tomato sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp marjoram leaves 

1 tsp snipped parsley

1/2 c onion, minced


Rub steak with garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cut steak crosswise into 4-6 strips. In a large skillet, partially cook bacon (do not cook to crispy), remove bacon, pouring grease into Instant Pot. 


Place a strip of beef on your work area, place a strip of bacon on the beef, and a pearl onion on the bacon.  Roll steak and bacon around the onion, securing with a toothpick. Coat the rolls with flour.  Set the Instant Pot to sauté, and add a little more oil, working in small batches, place Roll ‘em Ups in the Pot, and sear until brown.


Once browned, remove from the pot, and let rest.  Add tomato sauce, herbs and onions to the pot and stir. Allow to lightly boil.  Return the beef rolls to the pot, and cover with sauce.  Push the Cancel button on the Instant Pot, Put the lid in place, making sure the vent is turned to “Pressure.” Push the manual button. Make sure the cooker is on the “High” setting and set the timer for 15 minutes.


Walk away, make a cocktail, pour a beer, walk the dogs.....do whatever it is you do to kill time, before you eat something delicious. 


When the timer goes off.  Allow the steam to release, naturally. (I have a hard time waiting, but you need to!)


Serve and enjoy!


*note, I added potatoes and carrots and fresh rosemary in while I was pressuring.






Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rainbow Rose Veggie Tart

Rainbow Rose Veggie Tart


A few weeks back I came across a savory tart recipe, called Rainbow Rose Tart. I thought that's beautiful, but I'll never make it. Well the damn thing kept popping up everywhere I looked. So I looked into the recipe and then realized that it didn't involve much and with our CSA recently delivering the rainbow carrots, why not make it. And just in time for Easter. 


Rainbow Rose Tart 


Rainbow Rose Veggie Tart


Ingredients

  • 1 roll puff pastry
  • 15 ounces ricotta 
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 ounces grated fresh Parmesan
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, (double if using fresh)
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh mozzarella, shredded
  • 4 large multi-colored carrots
  • 2 zucchini


Directions

  • Unfold a puff pastry sheet over a tart pan. Place parchment paper or foil in the center and weight it down with beans or pie weight.
  • Bake the tart base in a preheated oven at 350°F for 15-20 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment paper. Let it cool. Raise over temp to 375°F. 
  • In a food processor, add the eggs, ricotta, grated parmesan cheese, grated nutmeg and pinch of salt. Pulse until smooth. Add the mozzarella and oregano. Pulse mixture until smooth.
  • Slice strips of zucchini and carrots length-wise using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin. Place the slices in a bowl and cook in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. This step will soften the slices and make them much easier to roll.
  • Spread the cheese mixture on top of the tart base.
  • Take one slice of a vegetable and roll it up very tightly; this will form the core of the rose. Take another slice and keep rolling. With around 2-3 slices you should obtain a decent-size rose bud. Place the bud in the center of the tart, pushing it down into the cheese. Keep rolling roses of different colors and place them one next to the other in a spiral formation.
  • Brush olive oil on top of the vegetables and bake the tart at 375 degrees F for 50 minutes.

(Inspired from Food.com)


Notes: 

  • make sure you use large carrots. And have an even selection of colors. 
  • Use the pie weights. The sides of my pastry fell while baking. I improvised and it came out undetected. 
  • Rolling the "roses" takes time. Allow yourself plenty of time!  I rolled all of the roses up, the placed according to how many colors I had. 
  • I used a vegetable peeler. Next time I might use the mandolin. The first piece needs to be paper thin to get the right tightness. 
  • Next time I might use thyme in place of the oregano. 
  • Might try a couple of tomatoes next time. 
Before the oven