Tuesday, April 16, 2019

ChezCindy: Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon

When I presented this salmon recipe at a cooking class, it was received with rave reviews.  Students later sent emails reporting on their success, and that they too received rave reviews from their family.
The salmon is quick to prepare on a busy weeknight, yet elegant enough to serve at a dinner party.  I decided to make it recently because I wanted something "healthyish" but also full of flavor.  The whole grain mustard is prominent but highlighted with a touch of sweetness from brown sugar and a delicate hint of honey.  You can use a side of salmon as I have done here, or cut into smaller 6-ounce portions.  Be sure to line your baking sheet with foil for easy clean up.

Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon
4 6-ounce salmon filets
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  In a small bowl, whisk together the mustards, brown sugar, and honey.  Place the salmon filets onto the foil-lined baking sheet.  Drizzle the oil over the salmon filets.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Generously spoon the mustard glaze onto the top of each salmon filet.  Some of the glaze may run over the side.  Place in the hot oven, baking until the salmon is firm to the touch, an internal temperature of 125 degrees, about 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon.  Remove the baking tray from the oven.  Allow the salmon to rest for 3-5 minutes.  Carefully slide a spatula under the salmon, leaving the skin behind on the foil-lined sheet.  Serve hot or at room temperature for a buffet-style meal.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

ChezCindy: Meatloaf & Glazed Carrots

As I plated this meal, it came to mind that this is classic diner food: meatloaf, mashed potatoes and glazed carrots.  Comfort classic on a plate. Maybe kicked up a bit from old-style diners.

The meatloaf recipe is my go-to from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.  It never fails.  I make it often, switching up what ground meat I use.  I usually make this with ground turkey.  Ms. Garten calls for all ground beef.  This one happened to be a mix of ground veal and beef.  It was a winning combination.  And yes, it is topped with ketchup.  Okay, maybe I mixed in a little bit of truffle oil to the ketchup before spreading it on the meatloaf ready for the oven.

Aside from the meatloaf, the star of this plate is the glazed carrots.  Buttery with just a hint of sweetness to glisten and coat each carrot coin.  The carrots make a great compliment to any plate.

Glazed Carrots
1 1/2 pounds carrots
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Clean and peel the carrots; cut into 1/2-inch rounds.  Place the carrot "coins" into an 10-inch skillet with deep sides.  Add in the butter, brown sugar, and salt.  Add water to the pan, filling just to the level of the carrots, but not above them, about 2-cups of water.  Place the pan on the stove over high heat, bringing to a boil.  Cook over high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, allowing the water to reduce to a syrupy glaze and the carrots are tender.  This should take roughly 10-12 minutes.  Turn off the heat, stir the carrots to evenly coat with the remaining glaze, resting for a few minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt if needed.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

ChezCindy: Omelete with Spinach and Shitakes

French-style Omelet with Spinach and Shitakes

French chefs prepare omelets with beauty and simplicity.  A beautiful technique that rolls the flat disc of gently cooked eggs out of the pan directly onto a warmed plate.  But omelets don't need to look as beautiful as a chef's preparation when we make them at home.  If you can crack eggs and whisk them in a bowl before adding them to a nonstick skillet, you are half-way there to making an omelet.  

I am drawn to omelets because of the add-ins.  Simplicity calls for just a bit of shredded cheese.  I tend to take mine further by adding in pre-cooked vegetables.  I generally have roasted or caramelized vegetables waiting for their next use in my refrigerator or freezer.  Most always I have caramelized onions in the freezer - highly recommended for topping burgers or bruschetta toasts.  Here I grabbed fresh spinach and shitake mushrooms.  Just a quick sauté in the skillet before beginning the omelet.  That is the true beauty of an omelet - it can be any flavor profile you desire.  

Below, I have outlined the basic technique for making an omelet.  But, as sometimes happens to me, if the omelet is just not coming together - no problem.  Stirring it around in the pan a bit more and it is now scrambled eggs!  Just as good.  

Basic Cheese Omelet  
3 eggs
1 heaping tablespoon butter
salt & pepper to taste preference
2 tablespoons grated cheese

Working with a small mixing bowl, crack the eggs into the bowl.  Whisk the eggs thoroughly until fully combined, but not frothy.

Heat a 8-inch nonstick sloped-sided skillet over medium heat.  Add the butter to melt, swirling the pan to coat the bottom and sides evenly.  Gently pour the whisked eggs into the hot skillet; reduce the heat to low.  Swirl the eggs in the pan to form an even layer coating the bottom of the pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Using a rubber spatula, draw the edges of the eggs to the center of the pan, allowing the more liquid eggs to fill in.  Cook for 1-2 minutes as is without touching or moving the eggs.  Add the cheese, and any other cooked filling at this time; turn off the heat.  Keep the omelet in the pan while the residual heat melts the cheese.  Using the rubber spatula, scrape around one side and underneath the omelet, lifting this side to fold the omelet in half to cover the cheese.  Using the help of the spatula, slide the omelet onto the serving plate.

Serves 1 hungry person or split for 2 to share.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

ChezCindy: Golden Raisin Scones with Honey-Olive Oil Glaze

If you read this blog, you know I am a fan of scones.  It had been quite a while since I made them, but it seemed like a good weekend to do so.  Scones are a pantry-ready baking recipe, meaning that the ingredients are most likely available in your pantry for spontaneous baking - flour, baking powder, butter, eggs.  Most scone recipes include an add-in such as dried fruit or cheese and herbs to bring flavor.  Searching my pantry for dried fruit, I was really low on what was available.  So the selection was golden raisins.  The scones came out tender and flakey, with the golden raisins adding sweetness and chew.  Usually I top sweet scones with a sugar glaze, but I wanted something different.  I make a fantastic focaccia using golden raisins that is bathed generously with a mix of olive oil and honey.  It is one of the best focaccia I have ever eaten.  This came to mind for topping the scones, thus I made a honey-olive oil glaze.  Surprising, but delicious, to have the taste of olive oil with the scones, making these scones perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner.

The next day, the scone made a terrific sandwich for my work-day lunch!

Golden Raisin Scones with Honey-Olive Oil Glaze
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix in the flour, sugar, baking powder, kosher salt, and orange zest.  Mix for 1-2 minutes to combine.  
Cut the cold butter into small 1/4 inch cubes.  Add the cold butter to the flour, mixing on low speed until the butter is roughly combined with the flour.

In a small bowl, combine the cold cream with the cold eggs, lightly beating to combine.  Add this to the mixing bowl.  Mix on low speed until roughly blended.  The dough will not be fully combined.  Add in the golden raisins; mix for 1 minute.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Gather the shaggy pieces of dough with your hands to shape into a square about 1-inch thick.  Fold the dough in half to form a rectangle.  Fold in half again to again form a small square.  Using your hands, again, shape the sides of the square to neatly complete the look of the square, pressing out the dough to make a larger square about 1-inch thick.  This time, fold the square in half one time to make a rectangle.  Shape up the sides of the rectangle so that the edges are cleanly shaped.  The folding is creating layers within the dough so that your baked scone will be flakey.  Using a rolling pin, lightly roll out the rectangle to the size of 12-inches by 4-inches.  Shape the edges again if the rectangle has lost its perfect shape.  Cut the rectangle in half across the 12-inch length to form two 12x2-inch rectangles.  Cut each rectangle into six 2-inch squares.  In a small bowl, mix the egg with 1 tablespoon of water; brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash.

Place the scones onto the prepared sheet tray lined with parchment paper.  Place the entire tray into the refrigerator to chill the scones for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the fridge, placing the cold tray onto the center rack of the preheated oven.  Bake the scones for 18-20 minutes until the tops of the scones are golden brown.  Remove from the oven; allow the scones to cool on the tray for 10 minutes.

Combine the honey and the olive oil in a small bowl.  Using a spoon, spread the honey-olive oil glaze over the tops of the scones.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

More scone recipes:

Recipe for Irish Cheddar & Herb Scones

Saturday, February 16, 2019

ChezCindy: Cauliflower Tabbouleh

I really enjoy eating cauliflower.  It might be my favorite vegetable.  But, I am the only one in the family who likes it.  Wait, that's not true.  My dogs love it.  The moment I start cutting the cauliflower into florets, they are at my feet sitting like pretty girls, looking up at me with puppy dog eyes.  So I share the bits of the stalk that I cut away.  They gobble it up like favorite treats.  It's good for them just as it is for us humans.  Great anti-inflammatory and good nutrition.  But my hubby, not at all.  He loathes cauliflower.

Cauliflower has come into favor in recent years.  It is so versatile.  Many people are enjoying the minced cauliflower cooked as a substitute for rice to cut back on starch and grains.  Bear with me as I step into the healthy side of life.  Cauliflower has just 25 calories per cup vs rice with 200 calories.  And the carb count is 5g per cup vs 46g for rice.  That said, it is very healthy.  But I mostly eat it because it is delicious.

Generally, I cut the cauliflower into florets and roast it with salt, pepper, olive oil, in a 400 degree oven until it is golden brown and delicious.  Rarely do I eat it raw.  The recipe I present here is contrary to that with this variation on tabbouleh.  Traditional tabbouleh is made with bulgur wheat.  I enjoy that too.  But the idea of using grated cauliflower intrigued me to change up my game by using a vegetable in place of the grain.  It is quite nice, offering a lighter version of the traditional.

The tabbouleh can be served as a main course salad for lunch, or along side of grilled chicken or fish.

Cauliflower Tabbouleh
1 medium head cauliflower
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
 a few grinds of black pepper

Remove and discard the green leaves from the cauliflower.  Cut away most of the stalk, keeping only the large florets of cauliflower.  Place the cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Pulse until the cauliflower is broken down into small grain-like pieces.  Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl.  The pulsed cauliflower should yield about 4 cups.  Add the drained chickpeas, chopped almonds, diced dried apricots, chopped herbs and green onions.  Stir to combine.  Add the juice of one lemon, approximately 2 tablespoons, and the olive oil.  Season with the salt and black pepper, stirring to combine and coating the cauliflower grains with the dressing.  Add more lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning to meet your taste.  Allow the tabbouleh to set for a few hours to gain the best flavor outcome.  Can be served room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator.

Friday, February 8, 2019

ChezCindy: Oatmeal Sheet Tray Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies with Walnuts & Cardamom Spice 

I normally make this recipe when I want to serve ice cream sandwiches for a summer dinner party.  Grown-ups turn into giddy little kids when eating these, enjoying the simple pleasure of ice cream sandwiched by soft chewy cookies.  This time I just wanted the cookies.  Once they are baked and cooled, I always cut off the crusty edges first as they are the coveted crispy treats.  I try to snag at least one edge before my husband gobbles up all of them.  

The recipe is very simple.  Spreading the cookie dough onto a sheet tray is one-and-done.  I generally make these with toasted walnuts.  You could also create a more decadent cookie by adding white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.

Oatmeal Sheet Tray Cookies
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom or cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup + 2 tablespoons rolled oats
3/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries~optional
3/4 white chocolate chips~optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a sheet pan, 11" x 17", with foil paper, leaving 2-inches extended over the short sides of the pan.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom (or cinnamon), whisking to combine.
Working with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the softened butter to the bowl; mix until creamy.  Add in the sugars, mixing until fluffy.  Mix in the egg and vanilla until blended.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour mixture until combined.  Add in the oats, walnuts and other dried fruit and chocolate chips if using, mixing until combined.
Scrape the cookie dough onto the prepared sheet pan, spreading it into an even layer.  The dough will be a bit sticky.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven to cool.  When cool, cut into squares.  Store in an air-tight container.

If you are making ice cream sandwiches, cut the large cookie bar into two even pieces.  Spread softened ice cream over one piece, top with the other to make one giant sandwich.  Wrap in plastic and place in the freezer for 4-hours minimum or overnight.  Remove from the freezer when ready to serve, cut into smaller sandwich blocks.  

Sunday, January 20, 2019

ChezCindy: Simple Mashed Potatoes

Are mashed potatoes really so simple?  I think there is technique, and preferences, to making them.  But nothing too terribly complicated.  My husband tells a story of when he was a small boy at a holiday dinner with extended family.  He made the innocent comment that he likes is mother's mashed potatoes better than his aunt's because his mom's have no lumps.  Imagine the embarrassment at that holiday table.

I generally prefer to make mashed potatoes using Yukon Gold potatoes.  They have a creamy yellow flesh and when fully cooked, the flesh mashes easily into a lump-free texture.  I use cream, butter, kosher salt and a bit of white pepper.  A tip to consider is to always heat the cream, or milk, before adding it to the cooked potatoes.  Reason being is that keeping the potatoes hot during the mashing process is key to avoiding lumps.  Cold cream will bring down the temperature of the potatoes.  I also have the butter very soft so that it melts in quickly when added to the hot potatoes.  Or you can melt the butter too.  Salt is a must for  potatoes as they are bland without it.  My taste preference is to use white pepper, but only a pinch.  Others use black pepper, which is fine if you don't mind seeing the bits of black against the creamy pale pallet of potatoes.

Mashed potatoes take well to adding other culinary friends to change up the flavor.  I make mustard mashed potatoes to serve with mustard brown sugar salmon. recipe here  Try adding other compound butters to mashed potatoes to serve with grilled steak.  recipe here

My simple mashed potatoes recipe is below.  Follow it as is or change it up by boiling both Yukon Golds and sweet potatoes, mashing them together for a mildly sweet blend.  Add whole garlic cloves, boiling and mashing together, for a spicy kick.  Other combinations could be potatoes and celery root, or rutabaga.  Simple mashed potatoes are just the beginning.

Chez Cindy Simple Mashed Potatoes
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
pinch white pepper

Peel the potatoes; cut each potato into 2-3 inch pieces.  Place the potatoes into a large deep pan; fill the pan with cold water to cover 1-inch above the potatoes.  Place the pan on the stove top over medium-high heat.  Place the lid on the pan, slightly askew.  Do not place the lid on fully or the potatoes will boil over.  Boil for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.  Remove from heat and drain the potatoes into a colander strainer.  In a small pan over medium heat, add the cream and butter to warm just until the butter melts.  Set aside.  Using a potato ricer, press the drained potatoes, a few pieces at a time through the ricer, directly into the pan they were cooked in.  Add the salt and pepper, and half of the cream/butter.  Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir the potatoes to combine.  Add more cream/butter until you reach a creamy smooth texture.  Taste for seasoning.  Serve hot.