Saturday, September 29, 2018

ChezCindy: Citrus Kale Salad

 Citrus Kale Salad with Apples

I presented a Citrus Kale Salad recipe as part of a citrus themed cooking class last winter, demonstrating several recipes using lemons, limes oranges and grapefruit.  The colorful citrus brought a ray of sunshine among the dark winter days.  It was fun and tasty.  With the cooler days of fall, kale is now available from the farm markets, and lots of gorgeous apples.  I thought this salad might be good with crisp apples in place of the clementine oranges.  The apples work very well.  The orange juice used in the salad dressing complements the apples and the kale.  Try making this now with apples and later this winter with clementine oranges.

Citrus Kale Salad
4 cups kale leaves, cut into thin ribbons
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4-5 clementine oranges, or 2 small apples

Slice the kale leaves into ribbons and place them into a large bowl.  Massage the olive oil into the kale; sprinkle with the kosher salt. 

Peel and divide each clementine into sections, cut each section in half crosswise; add to the kale.  Alternate option:  cut each apple into thin slices.  Drizzle 3 tablespoons of Citrus Dressing over the kale; toss to combine well.  Add more dressing as desired.  Serve as a first course salad, or make this into a hearty lunch by including sliced grilled chicken.  

Citrus Salad Dressing
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons olive oil

Add the orange juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, honey and Dijon in a small bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.  Serve with Citrus Kale Salad.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

ChezCindy: Nicoise-style Turkey Breast

Nicoise-style Roasted Turkey

Nicoise-style cooking is preparing food in the manner of the countryside in Nice, France.  Using fresh ingredients of olives, capers, lemons, tomatoes, fresh herbs, meat or fish, all bathed in olive oil.  Food prepared simply, letting the ingredients shine.

This roasted turkey breast does take a few additional steps to prepare, but it is worth the effort.  It is a bit advanced if you are ready to try something new.  Butterflying the turkey breast allows for the herbs, lemon and olives to become wrapped inside the turkey while roasting, allowing the flavor to baste the meat from the inside-out.  If you are pressed for time, have the butcher butterfly the meat for you.  Or, simply place the whole boneless turkey breast in the roasting pan, scattering the ingredients over and around the turkey.  This would also be quite good with turkey thighs.  

Nicoise-style Roasted Turkey Breast
1 whole turkey breast, boneless 3- 4 pounds
     Or use 3-4 pounds of bone-in turkey thighs
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pits removed
1 lemon, thinly sliced
4-6 stems of fresh tarragon
4-6 stems of fresh thyme
3-4 stems of fresh rosemary 
1 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt & pepper

green onions or leeks
small whole carrots

Have your butcher prepare a small whole turkey breast by removing the bone, keeping the 2 sides intact, attached by the skin.  Butterfly the thicker parts of the meat so that the turkey breast is even in thickness.  

Working on a large cutting board, lay out the turkey breast, opening it up like a book, skin-side down.  Sprinkle evenly with kosher salt, black pepper and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Tear the olives into pieces, distributing over the 2 sides of turkey.  Add half of the sprigs of tarragon, thyme and rosemary to one side; top the herbs with the lemon slices.  Close the "book" placing the plain side over the side with the herbs and lemon slices to cover them.  Sprinkle the outside with salt, black pepper.  Using butcher twine, tie the two sides together to keep it closed, containing the herbs, olives and lemons.  Place the bundled turkey breast into a zip-top bag.  Add 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar and the remaining sprigs of herbs.  Marinate in the refrigerator over night.  

Next day, remove the bundled turkey breast and loose herbs from the bag; discard the bag.  Allow the turkey breast to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Working on the stovetop, heat a large cast iron skillet for a few minutes, place the bundled turkey breast into the hot pan.  Cook on medium high heat for 5-7 minutes to sear and brown this first side.  When well browned, using tongs, turn the turkey over to side 2.  Place the loose herbs on top of side 2.  Scatter the prepared vegetables around the turkey at the edge of the pan.  Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper over the vegetables.  Place the pan into the preheated oven.  

Ready for the oven.

Roast until the center of the turkey breast reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees.  Roughly 15 minutes per pound of turkey.  Remove pan from the oven.   

Turkey breast resting in the pan, once internal temperature reaches 155 degrees.

Allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes in the pan.  Carry-over cooking will take the temperature to 160.  Remove the turkey from the pan, cut and remove the butcher string ties.  Carve into thick slices. Serve with the pan juices drizzled over the meat and vegetables.  Enjoy.  

Saturday, July 21, 2018

ChezCindy: Weekend Waffles

Banana Waffles

Wake up early and surprise your loved ones with homemade waffles.  If you are an occasional baker, you have the ingredients in the pantry.  And who doesn't have a brown spotted banana laying in the fruit bowl that has been passed over for the prettier yellow ones.  My house most always has one or two.

If you don't own a waffle maker, I encourage you to look at a second-hand store or watch for a sale to buy one.  Waffle batter is easy to make and the outcome is so much better than the toaster frozen variety you can buy as readymade.

In the Fall and Winter, I use this same recipe to make pumpkin waffles.  Just switch out the quarter cup of mashed bananas with a quarter cup of canned pumpkin puree.  Delicious.  You can be creative with the recipe too.  Try switching up the spices using cardamom, cloves or nutmeg.  And the milk can be anything from whole, skim, buttermilk, almond milk or even coconut milk.  Have fun.  There are a lot of weekends ahead of you calling out for waffles.

Banana Waffles
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup yogurt or sour cream
1/4 cup mashed bananas

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter, yogurt and bananas until smooth and well combined.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir until just combined.  Allow the mixed ingredients to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.

Preheat a waffle iron and lightly brush the grates with butter.  Fill the waffle grates and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions until the waffles are crisp and golden.  Repeat with the remaining batter.  Serve with melted butter and syrup, topping with fresh fruit if desired.

Makes 8 standard waffles

Monday, July 2, 2018

ChezCindy: Sweet Almond Cornmeal Cake

Almond Cornmeal Cake with Fresh Strawberries

For as long as I have been baking, it is always a pleasant surprise to come upon something completely new and foreign to me, that turns out to be really fantastic.  I was reading a wine magazine and found a cake recipe using almond paste as an ingredient.  It did not sound too foreign, but new to me in that I was not sure where to buy almond paste, or where to locate it in the grocery store if indeed they did sell it.  After perusing the baking aisle at my local grocer, I did not see it after one pass.  I thought maybe the International aisle.  Nope.  Fortunately, there was someone stocking the shelves who knew exactly what almond paste was, what aisle it was in, and the exact spot on the shelf.  Got it.  Now, take it home and figure out what is this almond paste.

Reading the package ingredients, it is simply blanched almonds, sugar, water and other "natural flavors".  Okay, sounds right.  As I opened the package, I discovered the most pleasant sweet almond fragrance.  Very enticing.  Removing it from the foil package, it was a beige squishy block, almost like shortening but with more substance.  Seems promising.  And it was.  This new ingredient created the most delicious sweet almond cake batter.

The recipe was not complicated, but I did change it just a bit.  With baking, I always recommend following the directions as-is for the first use, then make it your own.  After making it once, I decided on a few changes, and to make individual cakes using a large cupcake pan.  Here is how I made this new ingredient into a sweet success.

Almond Cornmeal Cake
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup almond paste
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup plain yogurt

butter and flour to grease the baking pan
powdered sugar for dusting the finished cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the cups of a cupcake pan to make 6 large cupcakes.  Or, grease an 8-inch cake pan.*  Lightly dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a small bowl, add the cornmeal, cake flour, and baking powder; whisk to combine.  Set aside.

Working with a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, add the softened butter and almond paste to the mixing bowl; mix on medium speed until creamy and well combined, 3-5 minutes.  Add in the powdered sugar, mixing on slow speed until combined.  Add in the eggs and egg yolks, one a time, mixing to combine.  Mix in the vanilla.  Add in the yogurt and dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Divide the cake batter evenly into the 6 cupcake wells.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.*  Remove from the oven.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the pan; place onto a wire baking rack to continue cooling.  Once cool, dust with powdered sugar.  Serve with fresh strawberries.

* If using an 8-inch cake pan, bake for 35 minutes.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

ChezCindy: Chive Scrambled Eggs with Parmesan Cheese

Chive Scrambled Eggs with Parmesan Cheese

When you have time in the morning and are looking for a special treat, scrambled eggs can be your go-to breakfast.  If you have scones made from another day stored in your freezer, even better.  Irish Cheddar Herb Scones   Today I took inspiration from the fresh chives in my herb garden and made chive scrambled eggs with Parmesan cheese.  

Scrambled eggs may seem simple enough and not need a recipe.  True.  But here are a few tips I recommend.  Use the best quality eggs you can find.  Color of the shell does not matter, but fresh from the farm does.  Cook your eggs in a non-stick pan with real butter.  The butter coats the pan and adds flavor.  Add salt to your eggs, but wait until they are nearly cooked through.  Adding salt to the raw eggs will toughen them.  Remove the eggs from the pan when they still look a bit wet and undercooked.  They will continue cooking on the plate as they set up.  I prefer softly scrambled eggs.  If you like yours a bit firmer, I still recommend early transfer to the plate, just a bit more cooked through for your preference.  Scrambled eggs make a great breakfast, but can be a quick simple meal anytime of day.  

If you are fortunate to have access to farm fresh eggs, count yourself lucky.  The richness of flavor is quite different than store-bought eggs.  The color of the yolks are your first clue that these eggs are a step up from everyday.  

Chive Scrambled Eggs with Parmesan Cheese
2 large fresh eggs
2-3 teaspoons butter
1/2 tablespoon fresh cut chives
1 teaspoon fresh grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of kosher salt

Crack each egg into a medium bowl.  With a fork, break the yolk and whisk the eggs until the yolk and white are completely combined.  Place a non-stick pan over a medium-low heat.  Add the butter to the pan to melt.  Whisk the eggs one more time, transfer to the pan.  With a rubber spatula, gently stir the eggs to form soft curds.  If the pan looks too dry, add another teaspoon of butter.  Add the pinch of salt, chives and cheese.  Stir to combine.  Transfer to serving plate.  Makes 1 serving or 2 small first course servings.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ChezCindy: What's Up with Avocado Toast?

Avocado Toast with Cherry Tomatoes & Micro-Greens

Why is avocado toast such a "thing"?  The popularity of avocado toast has risen, fallen, and is now back again.  If you have not tried it yet, here's the scoop.  

Avocado toast hit the social media scene, in recent popularity, originating from a restauranteur in Australia.  It then made the jump to New York City, bounced over to LA, then spread through the rest of the country like a California wild fire.  But why has its popularity been sustained for so long?  Well, it is easy to make.  It's satiating due to the healthy fats.  And, most importantly, it's really good!

Here are a few more reasons to give avocado toast a try.  Avocados contain more potassium than bananas.  True, avocados are the fattiest plant on the planet.  But, most of the fat in avocado is oleic acid, the same component found in olive oil linked to heart healthy benefits.  Avocado toast makes a quick portable breakfast when you are on the go.  Or, a tasty mid-day snack to make it through to dinner.  Here's how to make it.  

  1. Start with a good whole-grain bread from the local bakery shop.  Toast slices until nicely browned.
  2. Peel, then mash an avocado until almost smooth.  Mix in fresh squeezed lime juice.  Season with sea salt.  
  3. Spread the avocado mash onto the toast.  Top with sliced cherry tomatoes, micro-greens and course sea salt.  Eat right away.  Smile.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

ChezCindy: Mustard Herb Roasted Turkey

Mustard Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Roasted Carrots

I could have titled this post "Roasted Carrots that Taste Better Than the Turkey".   Not to imply that the turkey was bad, but the carrots stole the meal.  Roasting vegetables generally brings out the best in all produce highlighting the natural sweetness.  In this case, I used the carrots as a roasting rack for the turkey breast resulting in incredibly flavored carrots.  The juices from the turkey, mustard and herbs basted the carrots, yet they were slightly caramelized from sitting on the bottom of the roasting pan.
Carrots are often an under used vegetable.  They are inexpensive yet are so versatile.  And, anytime we can eat orange vegetables, that is a bonus to our day.  Since winter seems to be hanging on way past its welcome, try this carrot soup recipe to brighten your day.  Carrot Soup

Roasting a turkey breast is a great way to enjoy all the flavor of Thanksgiving meal without all the time and prep work.  I used a 2-pound bone-in turkey breast and it was done in roughly an hour.  You could also prepare this same recipe with the carrots using several large bone-in chicken breasts or a whole chicken.  Just vary the cooking time until the poultry reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees for doneness.

Mustard Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Roasted Carrots
1 bone-in turkey breast (half) 2-3 pounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs
   a combination of rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound carrots for the "roasting rack"

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Peel the carrots and cut then in half lengthwise.  Place the carrots in a roasting rack, flat side down to form a roasting rack for the turkey.  Place the turkey breast on top of the carrots.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, chopped fresh herbs, salt, sugar and pepper, mixing well.  Pour the mixture over the turkey breast.  Loosen the skin and rub some of the mustard herb mixture directly onto the meat.  Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the roasting pan.
Roast the turkey in the hot oven for roughly 1 - 1 1/2 hours until the turkey is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.  Serve with the roasted carrots and the turkey juices gathered at the bottom of the roasting pan.