Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cousin Brian’s Fresh Basil Zucchini Soup

This recipe is copied from the blog, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abrood.

The flavor of this soup will knock your socks off! And it’s had with such ease, owing to the basil being added at the very end, after the soup is cooked…a very simple soup to eat any day of the week, and good enough to serve at an elegant dinner party. The recipe is adapted from Patricia Wells’ The French Kitchen Cookbook.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 pounds zucchini, cut in 1-inch slices
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
Fine sea salt and black pepper to taste
Big handful basil leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped (unsweetened)

In a stock pot or 8-quart pot, heat the olive oil over low heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the sliced onions and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Saute the onions for about 8 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent, but not browned, covering them and stirring occasionally.
Add the zucchini to the pot along with the chicken or vegetable stock and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is softened
Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool, uncovered, for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to release steam. Stir in the fresh basil and mint leaves just before pureeing. In a blender, puree the soup in batches and return to a smaller, clean pot (a 3- to 4-quart pot). Or, use an immersion blender to puree the soup in its pot.
Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the soup heated through, room temperature, or chilled.
To serve, top each bowl of soup with a small dollop of the whipped cream.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chicken Breasts Suffed With Feta, Spinach, Mushrooms, Basil And Sun Dried Tomatoes In Panko Crust

Chicken Breasts Stuffed With Feta, Spinach, Mushrooms, Basil, and Sun Dried Tomatoes 
In Panko Crust.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/4 dry white wine or vermouth
1/2 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, 
      thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup chopped drained oil packed sun 
     dried tomatoes
2 oz. sheep's milk feta cheese
2 tsp. minced fresh oregano
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 cups panko crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
For filling heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots, garlic and mushrooms and cook until tender and most of the liquid has cooked away.  Add wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pan.  Remove to a bowl and cool completely.  Stir in spinach, sun dried tomatoes, feta and oregano.
Peheat oven to 400 degrees.  Trim chicken and cut a pocket in the thick edge of each breast by holding knife parallel and slicing to create about a 4 inch opening.  Season inside of pockets with salt and pepper to taste.  Stuff 1/4 of the filling into each chicken pocket, squeezing the edges together.
Whisk eggs and water in a shallow bowl or pie plate.  Combine panko, oregano and parsley in another shallow dish.  Dip chicken in egg mixture and then coat well with the bread crumb mixture.
Melt butter with olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken breasts and cook 2 minutes per side to brown-do not burn.  Transfer chicken to a greased rack set over a baking sheet.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pesto And Mascarpone Crusted Salmon Fillets

Pesto And Mascarpone 
Crusted Salmon Fillets
This is a recipe that I wasn't convinced would be as tasty as I found it to be.  It is absolutely wonderful and I almost forgot to photograph.  My suggestion for the recipe is, make certain that you drain excess oil from the pesto or the mascarpone will be too thin.
1-8 oz. container prepared pesto
1-8 oz, container mascarpone cheese
6-5 oz. salmon filles
salt and pepper
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Turn pesto into a strainer and let set over a bowl  and let drain for 10 minutes.  Stir pesto into mascarpone cheese.

Arrange salmon fillets on a parchment lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Divide the pesto cheese evenly among salmon fillets, spreading over entire surface.

Toss bread crumbs with parmesan cheese.   Divide the bread crumbs evenly among salmon fillets, pressing down lightly into pesto cheese.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the salmon is just cooked through.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Greek Rice Bake With Shrimp And Feta Crumb Topping


Greek Rice Bake With Shrimp 
And Feta Crumb Topping
This Greek spin on the classic baked rice 
casserole calls for shrimp, but chicken 
can also be used. Cut three large bone-
less chicken breasts into cubes and 
brown first in oil in a hot skillet before 
adding to cooked rice. If you plan on 
doubling the recipe, use 2 1/2 cups rice 
and only 4 1/2 cups  stock.
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 cups long-grain white rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes, or to taste
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 large red or green bell pepper
1 lb. large raw shrimp, peeled and

   deveined with tails left on

Feta Crumb Topping
3/4 cup soft fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup crumbled feta
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Place stock and bay leaf in a medium 
saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice; 
return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and 
simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is 
just tender. Remove from heat and let 
cool to room temperature. Remove 
bay leaf.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over 
medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, 
oregano and hot-pepper flakes, 
stirring, for 4 minutes or until softened.

Add tomatoes and red pepper; cook for 

3 minutes until softened. Stir in rice and 
spread in a greased 10-cup shallow 
casserole dish. If making ahead, cover 
and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 375°F .

Bury shrimp in rice. Combine bread 
crumbs, feta and parsley in a bowl; 
spread over rice. Bake in oven for 25 
to 30 minutes until shrimp are pink 
and topping is light golden.
Serves 4

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Lemon Curd
1 cup plus 2 T. sugar, divided use
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 T. grated lemon zest
To make the lemon curd, whisk 1 cup sugar, eggs and yolk, butter, lemon juice and zest in a medium saucepan over medium low heat until the butter melts. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to the consistency of lightly whipped cream, about 8 minutesdo not let it boil. Pour into a bowl and lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd; refrigerate until cold but not too firm, about 45 minutes or curd keeps up to 2 weeks.

3 cups fresh blackberries
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1-16 oz. prepared lemon or plain pound cake, sliced
1/4 cup Limoncello
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Toss blackberries with 2 T. sugar. Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold into the chilled lemon curd.

To build the trifle: Line a glass trifle bowl with 1/3 of the pound cake slices to fit.

Drizzle or brush the cake with 1/3 the Limoncello. Spoon a layer of 1/3 of the
lemon curd cream over the cake, and then a layer of 1/3 of the blackberries.
Repeat the layers twice ending with berries. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours before serving. Garnish with fresh mint. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Fig And Marscarpone Polenta Tart

Fig And Mascarpone Polenta Tart
This is a recipe from a Great News cooking class with Katherine Emminger.  It was outstanding and a dessert that would satisfy everyone's palate.  

I almost forgot to take a photo.  This was a piece of the tart unable to be served because it did not come out of the baking pan neatly.  The original tart was beautiful and delicious!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons minced rosemary
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and
    cut in pieces
1/3 cup iced Madeira wine or as needed
In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the steel blade, pulse to combine the flour, cornmeal sugar and salt.  
Add the rosemary and pulse once or twice, add the chilled butter a small amount at a time.  Pulse between additions until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
Continue to pulse the mixture, add the Madiera to form the pastry dough.
Test the dough to see that it will hold together and add more Madera as needed.
Press the dough evenly onto the bottom and up the side of a 10" tart pan with a removable bottom.
Chill the pastry until firm, about 30 minutes.
On the middle rack of the oven, bake at 25 to 30 minutes until golden.  Transfer from the oven to a cooling rack.
1 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Madeira wine
1 1/2 pounds figs, washed, drained
   and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 tablespoon honey or as needed 
   lightly warmed
In a bowl, combine the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and Madeira.  Spread the cheese filling evenly into the cooled pastry.  Arrange the sliced figs over the cheese and brush the figs with the honey to glaze.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki Sauce
Most people associate Tzatziki with the Greek Gyro.  There are so many other uses.  Serve with salmon or how about as a dip.  If dill enhances the flavor, think Tzatziki!
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 cups diced cucumber
1/2 cup fresh dill, minced
2 teaspoons fresh mint minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. Chill before serving.


Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Black Bean Quinoa Recipe

2 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup dried quinoa cooked in a rice cooker with 2 cups water)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
6 green onions, root removed, white and green parts chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Whisk together the olive oil, cumin, chili powder, garlic, lime juice, salt, and cayenne pepper Set aside.
Prepare the quinoa, and while the quinoa is cooking, rinse and drain the beans, then chop the vegetables. When the quinoa is done cooking, mix together the beans, vegetables, and quinoa in a large bowl. Fold in the spice and oil mixture.

Set the quinoa in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Friday, May 16, 2014

Spicy Hot Chocolate

Spicy Hot Chocolate
Executive Chef at Rancho la Peurta, Denise Roa shares the secret ingredient of her Spicy Hot Chocolate grown here in her organic garden.  Denise wears a holster which carries her chefs knife.

2 cups cooked butternut squash pulp
8.7 oz. Mexican chocolate (Ibarra)
6.5 semi-sweet chocolate
7 cups nonfat or 1% milk (or almond or rice)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom 
In a blender, puree the squash with several cups of milk until smooth.

In a large saucepan, mix the remaining milk, chocolate, chocolate, spices anad sweetener.  Add the pureed squash.

Cook over double boiler and stir constantly, for about 15 minutes, until the chocolate is melted and the milk is scalded.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Greek Greens Pie

Meet Denise Roa the Executive Chef at Rancho La Peurta
Denise Roa gave a cooking class to begin our day, Saturday May 10.  The recipes were given to us which I will share with you.  The vegetables used at the Ranch kitchen are grown in the Organic Garden.
Greek Greens Pie
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
8 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening (earth Balance)
6 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 bunch black kale
1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch chard
1 bunch spinach
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + more if needed
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, optional
1 large leek, washed well, sliced thin
1 cup sliced scallions
3/4 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg + 1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk + 1 teaspoon water
For The Pastry:
Measure both flours and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Cut both fats into 1/2 inch cubes and add to work bowl.  Pulse 4 times, one full second each.  Combine the ice water and vinegar.  Start pulsing very rapidly as you gradually add the liquid through the feed tube.
Pulse until dough forms large clumps but does not actually gather into a ball.  Remove dough from processor and place on lightly floured surface.  Divide in two, one piece slightly larger than the other, form each into a disk, enclose in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
For the greens:  bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil.  Remove stems from the greens and wash well.  Cut greens into largish pieces and keep each type separate.  Add the kale to the pot, cover, and cook 2 minutes.  Add the chard and cook 2 minutes.  Add the mustard greens and spinach, cover and cook 4 minutes.  Drain well and transfer greens to a large bowl of cold water.  When cool, drain, and squeeze as much water as you can from the greens. You should have 12 ounces of blanched greens.  Chop them fine.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the red pepper flakes, if using, and the leek and scallions.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped greens, and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.  If vegetables seem dry and want to stick to the pan, add small amounts of water as needed.  Take the pan off the heat and cool completely.   Add the cheeses, dill, and parsley.  Taste carefully for salt and add if needed.  Stir in the eggs.  
Adjust oven rack to the lowest position, set a heavy baking sheet on it, and preheat the oven to 450^ F degrees.

Roll the larger piece of chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13 inch circle and fit into a glass 9" pie plate.  Trim excess pastry so it has a 1/2" overhang.  Fill the pastry with the greens.  Brush edge of pastry with ice water and cover with top crust.  Trim to match the bottom crust and press to seal.  Fold edge to make a rounded rim, flatten slightly, and score with back of knife.  Brush with egg yolk, make four slits in top of pie, and place pie in oven.
Bake 20 minutes at 450 degrees.  Reduce the temperature to 400 degrees and bake 40 to 50 minutes more, until crust is nicely browned and pie is cooked through.
Cool 10 to 15 minutes and cut into 16 wedges.  Serve with arugula salad dressed with shallot sherry vinaigrette.

Grilled Succulent Porterhouse Steaks With Extra Virgin Olive oil and Raspberry Salsa

This is a recipe from a cooking class I took with my long time friend Ann.  Ann actually worked for my husband in the bank in Ohio.  This was an outstanding combination served together with the salsa on the side.

Grilled Succulent Porterhouse Steaks
With Extra virgin Olive Oil and Raspberry Salsa

4 Porterhouse Steaks, pat dry
3 teaspoons Fleur de Sel (sea salt)
Grapeseed oil for the grill
Olive oil for drizzling 

Rub steaks on both sides with sea salt.

Preheat the grill to medium high and oil the grid.

Sear the steaks, to mark with crosshatch formation, about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer the steaks to indirect heat and cover the grill.  Cook the steaks to desired doneness.

Transfer the steaks to a platter and cover loosely with foil: let stand for 5 minutes.

Serve the steaks drizzled with olive oil and Raspberry Salsa

Raspberry Salsa
2 large tomatillos, husked, washed, cored, and diced small
1/4 cup small dice red onion
12 ounces fresh raspberries, rinsed and drained
1 to 2 jalapenos, washed, cored, and diced small
2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
salt to taste

In a bowl, combine all ingredients.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Oven Roasted Vegetables

Meet Denise Roa the Executive Chef of Rancho La Puerta and Director of the Cooking School & Culinary Center.  My Mothers Day Gift from daughter Anne was a day at the Rancho La Puerta Spa.  Our day began with a cooking class with Denise.  All vegetables served at the Vegan Ranch are grown in her gardens.  I will be posting her recipes for the next three posts that were demonstrated and served to us.
Roasted Vegetables:
Yellow squash, medium dice
Fennel build, medium dice
Cauliflower, medium dice
Carrot, medium dice
Onion medium dice
Portabella or oyster mushrooms, 
   medium dice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme
Sea salt and freshly cracked black 
   pepper to taste
Mix marinade ingredients in a Pyrex or stainless steel oblong baking pan.

Place veggies in the marinade and coat thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Roast veggies in a 375 degree oven for 10 - 15 minutes, or just until tender.  Remove from oven and allow veggies to cool.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Potatoes And Leeks With Chicken

Potatoes and Leeks With Chicken
This is a heart healthy recipe I received from my local hospital in their bi-monthly magazine.  Serves 8
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons curry powder, to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried chilis
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 tespoon cinnamon
3 leeks, trimmed and chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch chunks
1 cup low sodium tomato sauce
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 red peppers diced
4 chicken breasts, boned
Heart oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven.  Add garlic, ginger, spices anad leeks.  Cook a few minutes until tender.  Add potatoes, tomato sauce and chicken broth.  Cook 10 minutes.  Add squash and peppers; cook 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Lightly brush chicken breasts with oil.  Grill approximately 10 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear.  Cut each chicken breast into three or four large pieces and add to sauce.
Reheat just before serving.  Sprinkle with cilantro.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Shrimp Rolls

Shrimp Rolls
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled 
   and deveined (21/25 per pound)
1/4 cup small dice celery
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch salt
Pinch ground white pepper
4 hot dog rolls Eastern style,
   split on top
1 tablespoon melted butter
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the shrimp, turn off the heat, and cover.  After two minutes, remove the shrimp and place in an ice bath until cool.  

Cut each shrimp into four pieces.

Combine the shrimp meat, celery, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.  Adjust seasonings.

For eachc sandwich, open a roll, brush with butter and toast on a griddle until golden brown.  Divide the shrimp between the rolls and serve immediately.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Chocolate Souffle

Chocolate Souffle

When it comes to absolutely heavenly desserts, the chocolate souffle has to rank at the top. It's light, fluffy, and just the right amount of sweet. Many cooks may be a little afraid of trying a souffle, however. They have a reputation for being temperamental and collapsing in on themselves, but actually with a little attention a souffle can be fairly easy to make.

To achieve the volume necessary in a great souffle, work the egg yolks and the whites separately. The yolk will be the rich base, and then after you fold in egg whites that have been whipped to perfection and are holding stiff peaks. Some chocolate souffle recipes call for milk in the base, but we found that muted the chocolate flavor. Instead, we just used more chocolate and reduced the amount of butter. As a fan of chocolate oranges, I also couldn't resist adding in a little orange liqueur to enhance the flavor. 

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 tablespoon        
   softened the remaining butter cut into 
   1/4" chunks)
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for
   coating the dishes
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarse
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
6 large egg yolks
8 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat eight 1-cup ramekins with 1 tablespoon butter, then coat the inside of the dishes evenly with the 1 tablespoon of sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Melt the chocolate and the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Turn off the heat, stir in the salt, vanilla, and liqueur. Set aside.
Bring the 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons water to a boil in a small saucepan. Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Beat the egg yolks with a mixer (or whisk vigorously) and while mixing, slowly pour in the sugar syrup. Continue to beat until the mixture triples in volume (about 3 minutes). Fold the yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture.
In a separate bowl, beat or whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks start for form. Add the confectioner's sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Vigorously stir one quarter of the whipped whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold the remaining whites into the mixture until just incorporated.Fill each ramekin almost to the rim, wiping the excess filling from the rim with a wet paper towel. Bake the souffle until puffed and set (30 to 35 minutes. Whatever you do, do not open the oven during the baking or souffle will collapse). Serve immediately.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Crustless Spinach and Feta Quiche with Sumac

A recipe from the blog, "Oh She Glows".

This quiche is elegant and delicious enough to serve guests, but also a great pie to have in the refrigerator to slice and eat for breakfast (lunch or dinner) all week long. You can lighten up the filling using all milk rather than half milk and half cream. Consider this your blank slate for any vegetables you have on hand, such as sautéed mushrooms or bell peppers.
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 box (10 oz.) frozen spinach, thawed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces feta cheese
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sumac, divided
4 eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Swiss, Gruyere, or mozzarella cheese
Heat the oven to 350°F. Brush an 8- or 9-inch pie plate with olive oil.
Squeeze the thawed spinach to remove as much water as possible. Shred and scatter the spinach over the bottom of the pie plate. Crumble the feta over the spinach, top with the onions, and dust with a tablespoon of sumac and a healthy pinch of kosher salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with a teaspoon of salt until they are smooth. Stir in the parmesan, milk, and cream. Pour the eggs over the spinach and feta.
Top the eggs evenly with the Swiss, Gruyere, or mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle with a tablespoon of sumac.
Bake the quiche for about 40 minutes, or until it is puffy and golden and doesn’t jiggle in the center when moved. Serve the quiche immediately with more sumac dusted over each slice. Refrigerate and eat the quiche for up to a week.

Homemade Apricot-Almond Power Bars

Homemaade Apricot-Poweer Bars

Turns out making your own power bars, energy bars, fruit and nut bars…it’s incredibly simple. The only requirements are a food processor and a few high-quality ingredients. Slice a bar with (not for) breakfast, and see just how powerful (and kind) they are.
Ingredients:1 cup dried apricots
1 cup roasted almonds (salted or unsalted)
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
3 tablespoons wheat germ
1/4 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut, divided
Juice of 1/2 lemon
In the bowl of a food processor, add the apricots, almonds, dates, and half of the coconut. Pulse until the fruit and nuts begin to break down, scraping the sides of the bowl if needed. Add the lemon juice and pulse numerous times, until a paste begins to form and then the paste balls up.

Tip the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Fold the wrap up over the dough and flatten the dough into a square about an inch thick, shaping the edges and flipping the packet over to continue shaping and flattening.

Lift up the plastic wrap and dust the top of the square with the remaining coconut. Wrap it tightly and freeze for at least one hour and up to several weeks, slicing bars off as needed.

Makes 9 3-inch bars

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lemony Risotto With 
Asparagus and Shrimp
5 cups hot chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black 
1 lb. large shrimp, cleaned and
    cut in half through the back
3/4 lb. asparagus, ends snapped off
    and cut into 1 in. lengths diagonally
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated 
   Parmesan cheese   
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley
1. Place broth in a saucepan and bring to a simmer; keep at a simmer while cooking the risotto.

2. For risotto, heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add rice; stir 1 minute.

3. Add 1 cup hot broth and lower heat just to keep mixture simmering.  Stir often and add broth 1 cup at a time as needed.  Keep stirring often and add lemon juice, zest and pepper along with the fourth cup of broth.  Keep stirring and cooking until rice is just barely tender.

4. Stir in the shrimp and cook 1 minute.  Stir in the asparagus and continue cooking and stirring until rice is tender and shrimp is cooked through, about 2 minutes adding more broth if necessary to maintain a creamy texture.

5. Remove rice from heat and stir in butter and cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide rice between bowls or plates and sprinkle with parsley; serve immediately.    Serves 4

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Black Beans and Rice

Black Beans and Rice
Monday was Cinco de Mayo.  For our celebratory dinner I prepared this dish.  Several of the guests complimented the flavor.  Remember rice and beans are a complete protein with all nine amino acids present.  I will make this as a side dish occasionally.
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup long grain rice or brown rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 cups black beans
Sour cream
Add extra virgin olive oil to heated skillet.  Sauté chopped onion until soft; add garlic and sauté 4 minutes until soft.  Add rice to skillet and stir to toast lightly.  Add vegetable broth and cook 20 minutes until rice is almost al-dente.  Rinse black beans and add to rice.  Season with ground cumin and cayenne pepper.  Heat mixture and serve.  Garnish with cilantro and sour cream.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed With Blue Cheese

Bacon Wrapped Dates
Stuffed With Blue Cheese

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
24 pitted dates
4 oz. crumbled blue cheese
12 slices bacon, cut in halves
24 wooden toothpicks

To make balsamic honey syrup, in a small saucepan over low heat simmer vinegar, and honey for 4 to 5 minutes or until syrupy, stirring frequently.

Preheat broiler.  With a scissors or a small sharp knife, cut dates open on one side.  Stuff each date with about 1 teaspoon blue cheese.  Wrap a piece of bacon around each date and secure with a toothpick.

Place dates on a foil lined lined broiler pan or a rimmed baking sheet.  Place under the broiler about 3 inches from the heat and broil for about 4 minutes.  Turn dates over and broil another 4 minutes more.  Transfer to a serving plate and drizzle with balsamic honey syrup.  Serve warm.    Makes 6 to 8 servings

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stuffed Chicken Breast with Salsa Verde

Stuffed Chicken with Salsa Verde
I have eaten chicken breasts prepared many different ways.  While this recipe might sound labor intensive, it goes together rather quickly.  The results will win raves.  I can't remember a chicken breast recipe being as delicious and tasty as this recipe.  This will be my go-to recipe when I serve company.  Actually I learned that Mario Batili is the creator of this recipe.

Chicken Breasts
2 whole chicken breasts 
   (attached with skin on)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
!/2 lb. turkey sausage
1/4 lb. ramps
1/4 lb. peas
1 cup torn bread (about 1/2" pieces)
2 eggs
Butchers twine
Salsa Verde
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley leaves
1/4 cup Fresh Fennel Fronds
1/4 cup Fresh Mint Leaves
1/4 cup Fresh Chervil Leaves
2 Tablespoons drained Capers
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Crushed Red Chili Flakes
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Directions: / Chicken Breasts
Lay each chicken breast as an open book.  Pound out the chicken to an even one-half inch thickness.  Preheat oven to 425F.
In a saute pan over medium high heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil and the turkey sausage.  Brown the meat, crumbling as it cooks and season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Add the ramps and cook until softened.  Add the peas and cook for 30 seconds, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Add the bread crumbs and egg to the turkey mixture and mix until combined.  Season the chicken generously with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Spoon the mixture over the chicken and roll up the chicken (starting from the narrowest end) securing with butchers twine about every inch.  Place in baking dish, skin side up.  Glaze the skin with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.  Transfer to oven and cook until meat thermometers registers 160F when measured with a meat thermometer (about 30 to 40 minutes).  Allow chicken to rest 10 minutes before carving.
Directions: Salsa
Place herbs, capers, mustard, dried chili flakes, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper in a food processor.  Pulse until a chunky paste is formed.  Check seasoning and adjust as needed.

TIP:  Ramps are available only in a 6 to 8 week window in the Spring.