May 4th, 2017
February 21st, 2017
This is an adaptation of a recipe from The Pioneer Woman that I saw on The Food Network the other day. I am planning an hors d’oeuvres get together for some time in early summer and thought these bite size pizzas would be a good addition. Ree’s recipe is made with puff pastry. I had a round of my favorite pizza dough in the freezer and decided to use that instead.
It was quite easy to roll out the pizza dough, cut it into small circles and top it with basil pesto, Roma tomato rounds, and Parmesan cheese. I baked the rounds on a pizza stone in a hot (400 – 450 degree) oven for about 20 minutes. Or you can follow The Pioneer Woman’s Recipe using puff pastry.
We are excited about an upcoming trip to Paris in the Fall. I have found this charming apartment in The Latin Quarter to rent for a week. Will let you know more as plans come together. If anyone has recommendations for restaurants in the 5th Arrondissement I would appreciate it.
February 4th, 2017
I love experiencing the Farmers’ Markets in new areas. Local beets and blood oranges are in season right now in Florida.
The New Smyrna Beach Farmers’ Market has several vendors carrying organic local produce. They have several varieties of beets including chioggia, golden and a lovely pink specimen.
I put this salad together using the standard dark red beets and the golden and pink beets combined with the blood oranges that I had found at the supermarket. I love the colors. Plus the salad was delicious.
BEETS AND BLOOD ORANGE SALAD
4 Red Beets, trimmed
2 Pink Beets, trimmed
2 Golden Beets, trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 blood oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds
3 scallions chopped, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash beets and place in foil packets separated by color. Roast in oven until beets are tender, about 40 minutes.
Unwrap cooked beets and let cool slightly. Peel and slice cooked beets.
Mix oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
In 3 quart size bags place the different colored sliced beets. Divide the oil and vinegar between the bags and allow the beets to marinate for a few hours. Can place in refrigerator if you will not use right away.
Arrange the beet rounds and orange rounds on a platter. Scatter scallions over the top.
While we were at the Farmers’ Market, I spotted this bungalow across the street. This would make a perfect Fixer Upper for Johanna Gaines or anyone with the skills. It has good bones and I think it is charming.
January 28th, 2017
Before I get to this delightful soup recipe, I have to share some fun I had last week. I have a dear friend who has moved just over the mountain from me. Barbara has built a lovely home on acreage with a barn. She raises goats for their wool and milk. She prefers a vegetarian diet. The two of us went to Whole Foods together on a shopping outing. It is obvious what each of us bought.
Sumo oranges are in season right now. They are a cross between mandarin oranges and navel oranges. Barb bought these. Because I was making the beef soup, I needed both beef shanks with marrow bone and oxtail. I asked the butcher for oxtail and he went into the walk-in refrigerator and brought out a whole cow’s tail and flashed it about. “Do you want me to cut this up for you?” he said. The look of horror on Barb’s face was priceless. He cut it up and we left the store giggling at our incongruent tastes. Barb said, “If you invite me to dinner I would prefer quiche and a salad.”
The heady combination of beef with bones and marrow, plus soy sauce, chilies, star anise and ginger makes for a rich broth and tender meat that cooks slowly for hours. A meat lover’s delight. Ladle the soup into bowls and add cooked Chinese noodles and broccolini. Adjust the amount of chilies to your taste. I used 2 Thai chilies in the soup and garnished it with slices of Habanero chilies. I will omit the too hot Habaneros next time, even though they looked pretty. This was slightly adapted from Hélène Dujardin on her blog Tartelette. It is best to make this a day ahead of time so you can skim the fat from the top after refrigerating.
TAIWANESE BEEF SOUP
Make this ahead of time so you can refrigerate and remove the fat before reheating
3 pounds bone-in beef shanks with marrow bones still on
1 pound beef oxtails
3 tablespoons canola oil
10 garlic cloves, bruised
one 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into 6 slices,
5 scallions, halved crosswise
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
3 star anise
1 teaspoons peppercorns
2 Thai chili, split lengthwise
1/4 cup roasted red chili paste
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
8 tablespoons light soy sauce
10 cups water
1 pound broccolini, stems halved
1/2 pound Udon noodles
extra freshly sliced Habanero red chili (optional)
In a large stock pot, heat half the oil over high heat. Sear half of the beef shanks and oxtails on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pot and repeat with the remaining oil and beef pieces.
Add all the remaining soup ingredients, except the broccolini, noodles and cilantro.
Bring to a boil then lower the heat to low, cover with the lid askew and cook for about 3 hours or until the beef is tender and falls off the bone.
Turn off the heat, and remove the beef pieces with a slotted spoon. Let the beef cool then shred it off the bones. Discard the bones. Strain the soup into another pot and put the meat into that pot. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, skim the fat that has risen to the top then reheat the soup on low heat.
In the meantime, blanch the broccolini in boiling water for about a minute. Set aside. Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Divide the noodles and broccolini among 6 bowls, ladle soup over noodles and garnish with cilantro and extra chili if desired.
January 22nd, 2017
If you would like a luxurious soup to serve as a first course, you couldn’t do any better than this Celery Root Velouté from Mimi Thorisson’s new cookbook French Country Cooking. It is very simple to make and is quite different from any other soup I have made before. Starting with a gnarly celery root, one of the least appealing vegetables I have ever seen, you end up with a thing of beauty.
I love the idea of serving the soup with a crisp slice of bacon. Crumbled into the bowl, it adds a crisp counterpoint to the velvety soup. My husband and I both loved the flavors achieved with just a few ingredients. The hint of mustard pairs well with the earthy taste of the celery root.
Whether you serve this as a first course or as a light lunch, you can’t go wrong with this unique recipe. Another winner from Mimi Thorisson.
CELERY ROOT VELOUTÉ
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 celery root (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into small cubes
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Extra-virgin olive oil
Piment D”espelette or mild chile powder
6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the celery root, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the milk and stock and bring the soup to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the celery root is tender, about 20 minutes.
Purée the soup, preferable using an immersion blender. Stir in the mustard and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot, drizzling each portion with a little olive oil and sprinkling with a pinch of piment d’Espelette. Top each bowl with a slice of bacon.
Makes 6 servings
We are spending more time in the kitchen this winter. Usually we are in Florida this time of year. But we sold the Florida house last spring and this is our first year experiencing winter in North Carolina. Granted we don’t have the brutal weather of the north, but it has been snowy, bleak and cold. We’ve had fires in the fireplace, cooking some of our meals there. There have been roasts and grilled poultry, lots of soups and casseroles. All of this heavy cooking makes me hungry for something light and nutritious.
This winter salad utilizes canned black beans and chickpeas along with easily found winter vegetables like cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onions and celery. It keeps well in the refrigerator and can be turned into several different dishes. Served on its own it is delicious but you could also:
1. Serve it over ground beef tacos.
2. Mix it with couscous or tabouli.
3. Add to a green salad.
4. Add canned tuna and serve it in a pita bread.
This bright salad is getting us through the dreary weather. One bright spot is that we will be leaving soon for 6 weeks in a rental house in Florida. It is in a different small town for us and we are looking forward to it.
1 Can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 English cucumber, stripes peeled and diced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 small bunch parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients through the chopped parsley in a large bowl. Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add to salad and toss well. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week and use as you please.