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Sunday, August 11, 2019

ChezCindy: Asian Salmon Cakes


We enjoy traveling to New England and particularly love Maine.  We fly into Portland and spend time in the city, but our destination is always the quaint coastal towns.  Portland is an up and coming food city with great restaurants, bakeries, and shops.  So much great food to try.  One of my travel pleasures is to capture food memories by creating a new discovered dish when I return home.  

At one of the Portland restaurants, we discovered Asian Salmon Cakes.  They were unlike any seafood cake we have had previously, usually being crab cakes.  The salmon cakes were tender and moist with a crisp exterior, served with a miso mayo.  Often times the restaurant will share their recipe, but this time this restaurant was not comfortable doing so.  This would become my next research task when I returned home: how to recreate the Asian Salmon Cakes.  

It took a few tries with some fails, but I finally created a salmon cake recipe that matched what we had at the restaurant.  Maybe even better.  Making the salmon cakes does require a few steps, but it is worth the effort.  I like to serve the salmon cakes with pickled savoy cabbage.   Pickled Vegetables

Asian Salmon Cakes with Miso Mayo
1 tablespoon finely diced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon finely diced serrano or jalapeno pepper 
2 green onion scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1-pound poached salmon
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, plus more for dredging
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
2 limes for serving

Poach the salmon:  Cut the salmon into 2-inch pieces.  Place the salmon into a small saucepan.  Cover the salmon with cold water, add a teaspoon of kosher salt.  Place the saucepan onto the stovetop over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat covering the pan.  Set a timer for 2 minutes to poach the salmon; drain the salmon into a sieve discarding the water.  Allow the salmon to cool.  

Working with a large bowl, combine the finely diced peppers, scallions, ginger, cilantro, egg, salt and coconut milk.  Fold in the cooled poached salmon and 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs.  Scoop the salmon mixture into 1/3-cup mounds.  Place the cakes onto a parchment lined baking sheet, lightly flattening the cakes.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.  

Heat the vegetable oil for frying in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.  Gently coat each salmon cake in panko to coat the sides, top and bottom.  When the oil is hot, carefully place each cake into the oil, cooking for 2-3 minutes on side one, and 2 minutes on the second side.  Remove from the pan, placing onto paper towels to absorb the excess oil.  Serve with lime wedges and miso mayo.  

Miso Mayo
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white or yellow miso paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients into a small bowl.  Stir to combine well.  





Friday, August 2, 2019

ChezCindy: Summer Corn Risotto



Summer Corn Risotto is a lighter version of what can often be thought of as a rich winter dish.  Each are delicious in their own way.  In the winter I often make wonderful risotto with sautéed mushrooms or butternut squash, served with seared salmon.  But this recipe is all about summer.

Stop by the farm market and pick up fresh corn on the cob.  We'll cut the fresh corn from the cob and then use the cobs to make a corn stock.  The homemade corn stock contributes to the lightness of the dish, instead of using the normal chicken stock.  But all sense of virtue stops here.  We finish the risotto with butter and parmesan cheese.

Serve as a light supper or add grilled shrimp for a more robust meal.

Summer Corn Risotto
3-4 cups corn stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of white pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups fresh corn, cut from the cob
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
chopped fresh herbs - chives, basil or parsley

Warm the stock in a saucepan over low heat.  Maintain at a low temperature.

Working with a wide saucepan with deep sides over medium heat, add the oil to the pan.  Add the chopped shallot, stirring for 2 minutes to soften.  Add in the Arborio rice, stirring to coat the grain in oil.  Cook until the rice is somewhat translucent with a tiny white dot in the center of the grain.  This should take 3-4 minutes.  Add in the wine, stirring until completely absorbed by the rice.

Begin adding the warm stock 1-2 ladles at a time, stirring frequently.  Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed before adding another ladle of stock.  Continue adding the stock, stirring nearly the entire time.

About 12-15 minutes into the process, remove a few grains of rice to test for doneness.  The grain should still be somewhat dry at this point.  Add in the salt and pepper, stirring with more stock.  When the rice is almost tender to the bite and looks creamy, remove from the heat.  Stir in the butter and the fresh corn.  Taste for seasoning, adding more salt as needed.  Stir in the parmesan cheese, add a bit more stock if the risotto looks too dry.  The texture should be creamy and just a bit loose.  Sprinkle with fresh herbs if desired.  Serve immediately.


Corn Stock for Risotto or Chowder
4-5 ears of fresh corn
1/2 small yellow onion
1 clove garlic
6-8 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt

Using a sharp knife, cut off the kernels from the cob.  We will use the cobs in the stock; saving the corn kernels for another use.  Use the corn kernels when making corn risotto or corn chowder.

Place the corn cobs into a large stock pat with deep sides.  Add in the remaining ingredients to the stock pan.  Add 10 cups of cold water to the stock pan.  Bring the contents to a boil.  Reduce to medium heat simmering for 25 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the stock cook for about 10 minutes.

When cool enough to handle the corn cobs, using tongs, grab each cob one at a time.  Using the back of a knife, scrape down the sides of the cob scraping the corn milk into the stock.  Discard the cobs, repeating with each cob.

Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve to strain out the vegetables and peppercorns.  The corn stock is now ready to use.  Stock can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month, until ready to use.




Tuesday, July 16, 2019

ChezCiindy: Zucchini Pesto Puff Pastry Tart


Summer time and zucchini.  There are so many ways to cook zucchini, but this one has become a new favorite.  Especially when the recipe calls for puff pastry and parmesan cheese, what's not to love?  Even if you are not a fan of zucchini, try this.  It is quite delicious.

I recommend serving this as an appetizer with a crisp white wine or for lunch with a green salad.  If you want to take this to the next level and make a decadent dinner, here's what I recommend.   Once the tart is baked and is cooling, cook sunny-side up eggs in a skillet.  Top the tart with the eggs, then cut into large squares and serve immediately.  I'd serve this with champagne, of course.

Zucchini and Pesto Tart
1 sheet of puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farms
2 small zucchinis, about 6-inches each
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon basil ribbons
salt and pepper
sea salt to finish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Thaw one sheet of puff pastry according to package directions.  Once thawed, place the folded pastry dough onto a sheet of parchment paper; unfold.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to roughly 12x10 inch rectangle.  Transfer the parchment paper carrying the dough, placing onto a large sheet pan with sides.  Score a 1/2-inch border at the edges of the puff pastry dough, being careful not to cut through.  This will form an edge for the tart.  Using a fork, dock the dough within the borders, adding tiny holes every inch or so.  This will allow steam to escape when baking.

Using a mandolin, or a sharp knife or food processor, cut the zucchini into thin slices, about 1/8th-inch thick.  Spread the pesto on to the crust, staying within the borders.  Layer the sliced zucchini evenly in one layer over the pesto.  Sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese over the zucchini, staying within the borders.  Sprinkle the basil ribbons over the cheese.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the tart.  Sprinkle with roughly 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Place the sheet tray into the hot oven.  Bake the tart for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.   Remove from the oven, allowing the tart to cool for 5 minutes.  Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and a final sprinkling of sea salt before cutting into squares for serving.  The tart may puff up while baking, but it will settle once removed from the oven.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

ChezCindy: Gluten Free Tahini Brownies


I've mentioned this before, my husband has great loyalty to his favorite foods.  He eats the same breakfast nearly everyday, with the only change up being when I offer to make eggs for him on the weekends.  Most often he declines.  He takes pride in his breakfast habit.  He read an interview given by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa icon, that she too eats the same breakfast daily.  He and Ina, simpatico.  Who would have thought.  Maybe we will get that invitation to visit the Hamptons.

He also has his favorite brownie recipe.  I posted about that one too.  Chez Cindy House Brownies  This brownie recipe is truly amazing, but brownies come in many others styles.  If I had to choose my favorite, the Alice Medrich  Cocoa Brownies with Brown Butter and Walnuts might be mine.

Recently I was craving tahini brownies, as I have seen many recipes offering this combination.  I had not made them before.  For some reason, in my imagination, this was the brownie I wanted.  After a bit of research, I settled on the recipe by Milk Street with Christopher Kimball.  Below is my recipe as inspired by theirs.  The result is a rich chocolate brownie with a nutty swirl of tahini.  I made mine gluten free by using Namaste flour, which is a one-to-one substitute for all-purpose flour.

Gluten Free Tahini Brownies
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup tahini
1/3 cup gluten free flour, Namaste or other name brand*
3 tablespoons cocoa

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare an 8-inch square baking pan by lining it with 2 pieces of foil with the excess hanging over the edges on all sides.  Lightly spray with cooking oil.

In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and the chopped chocolate, stirring until just melted.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, add the eggs and sugar mixing until thickened and pale yellow in color, about 1 minute.  Add in the vanilla and salt, mixing to combine.  Add in the tahini, mixing thoroughly until combined.  Sift in the *gluten free flour, folding until combined.  At this point, spoon out 1/2 cup of the blond tahini mixture into a small bowl; set aside.  This will be added later to make the tahini swirls.

Sift in the cocoa powder; add in the melted chocolate mixture, folding until combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading evenly.

Spoon the reserved blond tahini mixture into several dollops over the top.


Using the tip of a knife, pull through the dollops to make swirls of chocolate and blond.


Place the baking pan into the preheated oven on the center rack, baking for 28-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven, cooling on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  Using the foil edges, lift the brownies from the pan.  Once fully cool, cut into squares and enjoy!


* all-purpose flour can also be used in the same amount as a subsitute

Sunday, June 16, 2019

ChezCindy: Orzo Pasta Salad with Shrimp & Feta


This salad is a humble pasta dish that when shared at a picnic or a pot luck, it quietly steals the show as the best dish at the gathering.  Everyone will begin asking "Who made this shrimp orzo salad?".  And you will demurely acknowledge it was you.  But go ahead, take in all the praise.  You have my permission.  But first, I need to give a nod to Chef Bobby Flay.  It is his recipe that I took inspiration from many years ago.  Thank you Bobby.  I have been reaping praise for Bobby's recipe for years.  Now you can too.

Orzo Pasta Salad with Shrimp & Feta
12 ounces orzo pasta, uncooked
1 English cucumber
3-4 green onions
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of black pepper
6-ounces feta cheese
1 pound cooked, peeled medium size shrimp (16-20 count)

For the dressing:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook the orzo pasta according to the package directions.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Cut the cucumber in half length-wise.  Using a small spoon, remove the seeds by scraping along the length of the cut side of the cucumber.  Dice the cucumber into 1/2-inch pieces.  Thinly slice the green onions, using both the white and green parts.  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.  Combine the orzo, cucumbers, green onions and tomatoes into a large bowl.  Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper over the pasta and vegetables, gently toss to combine.  

Make the dressing by placing the vinegar, fresh dill, mustard, honey, salt and pepper into a blender or small food processor; blend until smooth.  Remove the top pour spout - not the lid - from the blender or processor.  With the motor running, slowly add the oil to the mixture to emulsify the ingredients into a smooth dressing.  If your blender or processor does not have a pour spout, add the oil 1/4 cup at a time, blending thoroughly before adding the next 1/4 cup.



Pour most of the dressing over the pasta and vegetable mix, reserving about 1/4 of it to adjust to your taste, stir to combine.  Add in the feta cheese by crumbling it over the mix.  Fold in the cooked peeled shrimp.  Taste for seasoning.   Add in more dressing, salt and pepper as needed.  Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.


Saturday, June 1, 2019

ChezCindy: Steak & Mushrooms with Bourbon BBQ Sauce


This recipe gives you a new way to jazz up your summer cookouts by grilling steak and glazing it with your favorite BBQ sauce.  I have included a recipe for my homemade go-to BBQ sauce, with or without the bourbon!  My BBQ sauce is mustard based and adds the standard ingredients of brown sugar, molasses, and ketchup.

I like to use sirloin steak for this recipe in place of more expensive cuts such as strip steak or rib-eye.  The sirloin has great beef flavor and pairs nicely with the BBQ sauce.  The key is to cook the sirloin to medium-rare, or at most, medium.  If you cook it further, the meat may be too tough.  For tips on preparing less expensive cuts of steak, Click here

Be sure to try using the blackberries as instructed in the recipe.  They are surprisingly a great compliment to the sweetness of the BBQ sauce, adding great balance to the plate.


Steak & Mushrooms with Bourbon BBQ Sauce
1 pound Sirloin Steak
16 ounces cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped herbs, parsley, chives & thyme
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
salt & pepper

3/4 cup Bourbon BBQ Sauce

To make the mushrooms:   Gently wash the mushrooms to remove any dirt, dry with paper towels.  Thinly slice the mushrooms; set aside.  Working with a large non-stick skillet, add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Melt the butter/oil mixture over medium-high heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the sliced mushrooms.  Cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Once the mushrooms have lost most of their moisture and begin to brown in color, turn off the heat.  With the heat off, add the tablespoon of bourbon to the mushrooms, stirring to combine.
Turn the heat back on to medium, add in the minced garlic, chopped herbs, stirring to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Add in the fresh blackberries stir to combine, cooking for 1 minute.  Turn off the heat and set aside.  Prepare the steak.

To make the Steak:  Allow the steak to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Heat a grill, either indoor or outdoor, to medium-high heat.  Season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides, drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the steak.  When the grill is hot, place the seasoned steak onto the grill, cooking this side for 4-7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak.  Flip over to finish cooking the steak to medium rare, or the desired temperature of your preference.  Once you have flipped to side two, generously spoon the BBQ sauce onto the steak.  When the steak is cooked to temperature, flip over and spoon side two with a small amount of sauce, leaving extra BBQ sauce for serving at the table.  Remove the steak from the grill.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing to serve.  Serve the sliced steak with a scattering of mushrooms and blackberries, with extra BBQ sauce on the side.  A note about slicing steak across the grain to achieve tender slices, click here .

To make the BBQ sauce:
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
black pepper

Measure out each ingredient into a small sauce pan.  Place the pan over a low flame, stirring to combine, heating for 3-4 minutes.  Turn off heat and set aside.

To make this a Bourbon BBQ sauce:  In a second small sauce pan, add 1/2 cup of bourbon, heat over high heat, cooking until the bourbon reduces to 1/4 cup.  This will take roughly 10 minutes.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, dissolving the sugar.  Turn off the heat.

Add the bourbon to the prepared BBQ sauce, stirring to combine.  Taste for seasoning, adding more black pepper as desired.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

ChezCindy: Farm to Table Cooking Classes

If you have ever gone to the farmers market and were inspired by the bounty and beauty of the seasonal produce and artisan goods, you will love these Farm to Table cooking classes offered at the Farmers Market Saturdays in Westerville!





I've created recipes featuring the products from farmers and producers from the Westerville Saturday Farmers Market.  

Each month I will teach a 90 minute class showcasing different recipes using the products from the market vendors.  You will have a front row opportunity to learn how to prepare an appetizer, entrée, dessert, and a few other bonus recipes!  Plus tasting and enjoying the food prepared during the class.  I'll teach you the tips and techniques to recreate the menu in your own home.  


Come join me this farm market season.  Classes start in May and run through October.  Let's cook, eat, and have great fun! 

Below is a sneak preview of some of the recipes we'll be making together.  See class detail by clicking on Farm to Table Cooking Classes 


Savory Zucchini Tart with Basil Pesto


 Yellow Tomato Corn Salsa


 Roasted Heirloom Tomato Tart


 Apple Cucumber Salad with Honey Lime Dressing


Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Shopping at the Farmer's Market provides kitchen inspiration.  Theses cooking classes will teach you how to turn your inspiration into delicious cooking creations!