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WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?

I’m cooking a Spaghetti Squash, with a hammer & screwdriver of course…..

This is the best trick for making a squash cook fast. It works with most, the only one I haven’t tried it on is the Butternut but I will.
I don’t use my microwave for much but it really does the trick here. Spaghetti Squash takes at least 40 minutes to cook in the oven but this is the super busy version, where you don’t have all day to be in the kitchen.
Nick, this one’s for you……

Use a CLEAN screw driver and bang a few holes into it. 8 should do the trick, put them on all sides and then put it in the microwave on a plate for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size and it is cooked, done, finished, ready to eat.
Remove it with a towel it’s gonna be hot & you can cut into it like butter, Not like when its uncooked and you need a machete to get through it. You can slice right through the hard shell because its not hard anymore.
Scoop the seeds out and season it.
VOILA!


enjoy -T

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Triple Threat Vinaigrette

With these three LOOK OUT salads & side dishes!

I LOVE salad dressing, The worse thing that ever happened to me was when I put “low Cal” dressing on a salad.
I remember it like it was yesterday, looking down disgusted as if someone switched my bowl of salad with a bowl of dirt…..
Well those days are gone and now that I know how easy it is to make my own forget the store bought stuff!
Here are three of my fave’s that can go on salads, veggies and anything else you want to gussy up. I do a good size batch so I have it on hand in the fridge and put them in jars with lids to keep fresh.
With all of these whisk all the ingredients together while drizzling the olive oil in slowly so it thickens nicely or “emulsifies”
First is the
Stone Ground Mustard Vinaigrette:
This is great with bitter greens like arugula, endive and watercress. I put it on my avocado & tomato salad and it was delish
1 Tbls Stone Ground Mustard (you want this one because the mustard seeds look really nice as well as flavorful)
1/4 C white wine vinegar
1 C olive oil
3 Tbls Maple Syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper


Balsamic Vinaigrette:
This stands up to anything you throw it on from salads to roasted vegetables. I marinated a portobello mushroom with it & it was the best one I’ve ever had. I find my self looking for things to dunk in this one.
1/4 C Balsamic vinegar
1 C olive oil
1 Tbls maple syrup or sugar (the syrup adds more depth)
1 Tbls Dijon Mustard
pinch of red pepper flakes (or my new favorite Aleppo Pepper)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Lemon Scallion Vinaigrette:
This one has a bright citrus flavor and you can substitute chives for the scallions and it will taste the same. This is much lighter then the other two and would be really great on a salad with fennel or again bitter greens. I like it on grilled romaine with a little cheese. This has no pepper, it is meant to be a little tart and less sweet then Balsamic even though it has sweetness added.
4 Scallions (green onions) finely chopped
1C olive oil
juice from 1 lemon (about 3 Tbls)
zest from that same lemon
3 Tbls Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp honey
 Enjoy -T

“I’m Starving!”……

Well I am anything but starving really…. But when you go to the store on an empty stomach, WATCH OUT WALLET!
So before I even put the food away I had to whip up a sandwich. This is tasty and filling and I had actually purchased one similar to this at a a cheese shop in town.
Yup, you are looking at it, thats it 4 ingredients  are what stands between you and a full stomach!
WHAT YOU NEED:
Baguette or other fresh bread
Pecorino Romano cheese
avocado
Champagne Mustard

WHAT YOU DO:
This is super simple but I’ll tell you how I do it
Obviously you cut the bread in half but if you are using the French Baguette like I am you can actually pull a little of the bread out of the soft part so your food stays in. Have you ever bitten into a sandwich and had the contents come out the sides? Me too. So just use your hands and pull out about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch of the inside on both pieces. THIS IS OPTIONAL you don’t have to. I was too hungry to bother and spent the entire sandwich replacing the avocados…..
Slice the avocado and cheese thin, if its too thick bye, bye, out the sides
Spread a thin layer of a nice flavored mustard or better yet, a fig spread (i was out of it)
Then layer a single layer of the cheese and avocado on the bread top with other half and
EAT!
Then you can put the rest of the grocery’s away

  Enjoy -T

Carrot Soup….Remember the mushroom broth?

Remember I told you to save it from the Wild Mushroom Pesto? Well it really gives an otherwise bland soup a nice rich flavor and with a few other tasty tips this is so good and serve-able to a crowd. Did you spend all day doing it? ….No but you don’t have to tell.I like my soup with a few bits to bite into but you can make this perfectly, velvety, smooth if you like. That’s what I love about cooking, making it my own. So here is a soup anyone can make!
WHAT YOU NEED:
3 lb bag of carrots or 15 to 20
6 stalks of celery with tops (or more or less what every you think or have)
1 small onion
4 garlic cloves pressed
1/2 C cream – room temp  (light, heavy, half & half…whatever you have)
THE BROTH FROM THE MUSHROOMS IN THE LAST BLOG
(if you don’t have that 2 cups of chicken or veg stock)
2 C water (or more if needed)
3 tlbs olive oil
big pinch of Aleppo Pepper or red pepper flakes (Aleppo is my new favorite spice)-(optional I like the heat)
1/2 tsp ground ginger or fresh, I just didn’t have any fresh on hand
1 tbls salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sweet paprika

WHAT TO DO:
dice onion and saute in the 3 tlbs olive oil in a large stock pot
add pressed garlic
chop carrots & celery including the tops of the celery to about 1/2 inch pieces & add to onions
saute on med heat to start to soften veggies
add Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes), Ginger, Salt & sugar and stir well. Saute for about 10 minutes to bring out all the flavors.
Add in the broth and water and cook covered on medium heat for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender. If you like thinner soups add more water at this point.
Remove from heat and blend  1/2 with an immersion blender or you can transfer to a regular blender, you might have to do it in batches in a blender and watch out for steam make sure your top has a air gap but not enough to splatter out and burn you.
At this point you can decide how you would like the consistency to be. I blend about 1/2 and then once you are done add the cream and mix well.
To serve garnish with a parsley leaf.
Enjoy -T

 

 

Wild Mushroom Pesto, and I mean it in the loosest sense of the word


Spread or puree  just don’t sound as good, Pesto sounds yummy and Italian. So with none of the ingredients that are called for in an actual Pesto or the use of a mortar & pestle. I give you my Wild Mushroom “Pesto”. Another easy dish! other then the mushrooms soaking it all just goes in a blender. It can be used just as a pesto would so give it a try it is delicious and great for get-togethers. PLUS one important thing to remember so get a pen and take this down…….SAVE THE BROTH! you will see in the recipe you reconstitute the mushrooms and this broth left is liquid gold. You can freeze it and use it for stock in anything!

WHAT YOU NEED:
1.7 oz (1 C) bag of a dried  mushroom medley, reconstituted about 1 cup (or use fresh or other combo/blend)
1/2 C Pecorino Romano cheese chopped roughly or grated (some for garnish)
1 lg Clove garlic pressed
1/2 c parsley chopped
1/4 C olive oil (more or less if needed)
salt & pepper to taste
WHAT YOU DO:
First, if you are using dried mushrooms you need to bring them back to life.
put them in a bowl and pour 2 cups of hot water over them, cover and let stand for 20 minutes or longer.
I am using the dried because I can find these in the store very inexpensive and they have great exotic, flavorful combinations you can not find in all grocery stores. You can use them fresh or use a combo of Crimini, button & shiitake you just need to clean them remove stems and NOT soak them.
After 20 min strain them with a sieve and press them gently to get most of the water out.
We are adding olive oil so you don’t want them too wet.
Put the juice in a ziplock and freeze it for anther time.
In a food processor add in all the ingredients except for the olive oil, a few tablespoons of the cheese and a big pinch of the parsley for garnish.
Pulse the mixture together until it starts to stick.
Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is going until you get to the desired consistency. I like it to be like a thick pesto or a thick natural peanut butter texture but it can be how ever you like it. Taste it and add salt and pepper if needed, the cheese is salty so you may not want to add salt at all.
Spread on toasted baguette & garnish with parsley & the left over cheese.
You could also put this in a bowl with veggies and bread for dipping
This is also delicious on pasta. Just cook pasta as you normally would and then drain, spoon over hot pasta and serve with chopped chives or parsley the cheese melts to the hot pasta and YUM!

Enjoy -T

Simple Cucumber & Tomato Salad

I believe on most days, simple is better…..This is a perfect example. Enhancing the true flavor out of something instead of covering it up. Now this does not mean I don’t like to create flavors too but some days this is perfect for lunch for me!
 WHAT YOU NEED:1 English cucumber
1 Tomato
2 or more sprigs of dill
3 Tbls white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Salt

WHAT YOU DO:
Cut the cucumber into 1/4 inch slices (i like to leave a little skin on so I peel it in stripes)
Cut tomato onto wedges
Place in bowl and add
Sugar, Salt, & dill chopped then toss. It looks beautiful and tastes delicious. This can be done a little ahead but a full day will be too much and make the cucumber soggy.
If you are lucky you will get the treat I did cutting my tomato! Heart shaped food is fun especially when it is natural.

Just a side note I add my tomato after I mixed everything so I don’t mush it or dent it & then give it a quick toss just before serving.

Enjoy -T

 

Like a kid in a candy store……..

I have never been a huge candy person but if you say to me “like a kid in a candy store” I think of the first time they swung open the door at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  That’s how I felt today walking into Newport Spice Company. Someone told me about it and I had no idea it was there so I had to go check it out. When I opened the door at Franklin Street just off Thames Street in Newport, I was greeted by the smell of a million spices YUM!! I didn’t know where to start. There were huge jars of spices on top of the white cupboards with rows and rows of silver containers filled with every spice you can imagine along with preserved lemons, bamboo bowls, tiny wooden spoons, honey & more!  The owner is there to help you through the maze if need be and to explain what each spice is for. There were spice grinders in beautiful colors and shapes and choosing one is almost impossible (don’t I need one grinder for every spice now?) He showed me books about spices and the new refills that you can get once you use up what’s in your tin. Environmentally friendly too?!, is there no greater pleasure then a spice store for a self proclaimed foodie?? I think not……
So trying to keep my self control and the fact there is not a square inch of space in my spice cabinet  I was able to get out with 1 grinder, 2 vanilla beans from Indonesia and 3 beautifully full tins (the tins are only $4.50 each & the refills are like $3.50) One of them I had never heard of before Aleppo Pepper and I will be trying it as he suggested on sauteed string beans instead of red pepper flakes!
They have a web site and sell online. Check them out if you have a chance it is a rarity to find a friendly person behind the counter and here you will. http://www.newportspice.com

Enjoy,

-T

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