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!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

ChezCindy: Special Occasion Seared Scallops

Seared scallops are a special occasion meal that needs little adornment.  But, proper buying and cooking is essential.  First, a bit of education on buying scallops.  I encourage you to seek out scallops that are dry packed, as opposed to wet packed.  Wet packed scallops have been soaked in a solution of salted water, including phosphates, that causes the scallops to swell up with this solution.  The solution causes the scallops to be heavy and therefore cost more by volume.  These scallops also tend to be older because the salty solution preserves them for a longer shelf-life.  The dry packed are just that, dry with no soaking in any salty solution.  Therefore, you are not paying for the extra water weight.  These may be more expensive in the cost per pound because they are fresher and have a shorter shelf.  But they are far superior in taste and quality, worthy of the extra price per pound over the wet packed.  

Dry scallops caramelize beautifully like you see in the picture above.  Wet scallops rarely reach this level of color as they have too much liquid to cook out, leaving you with a pale, overcooked, not so tasty outcome. How do you know if scallops are wet or dry packed?  Ask the fish monger.  They should know and tell you.  If they do not, shop elsewhere.  It is good to have a fish monger you know and can trust.   

Seared Scallops
8 large dry packed scallops
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
sea salt
white pepper

3 tablespoons butter for a sauce

Place the scallops onto a paper towel to dry them on each side.  Remove the small muscle on the side, which may already have been removed for you by the seller.  This part of the scallop is tough and chewy, unlike the silky scallop meat.  Season the tops of the scallops with just a soft sprinkling of sea salt and a slight pinch of white pepper.  

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add the butter and oil.  Swirl the pan to combine.  Carefully place each scallop into the pan seasoned-side down, allowing space in-between each scallop.  Sear on this first side for roughly 2 minutes.  You should see the brown crust forming around the edges of the scallop.  It's okay to peek underneath to see the progress of how well it is browning.  If it is not fully golden, allow it to brown a minute longer, but reduce the amount of cooking time for side 2.  You will want this first side to be a richer brown color than side 2.  Flip each scallop over to brown the second side, cooking for only 1 minute, maybe 90 seconds.  The scallop will be translucent white in the middle.  Remove from the pan and place onto the serving plates.

Once you have removed the scallops, place the pan back onto the stovetop with the heat off.  Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter.  Swirl the pan to melt the butter.  There is enough residual heat in the pan to quickly melt the butter.  Pour the melted butter over the plated scallops.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy.  

Saturday, April 27, 2019

ChezCindy: Sugared Shortbread Cookies

When you are feeling fancy, you can call these beautiful cookies Sables as they are known in France.  Here in America, we know them as shortbread cookies.  They are a classic slice and bake cookie like you can find premade for you at the grocery store.  But so much better if you make them at home with fresh butter, farm eggs and sugar.  There are only 5 ingredients in the recipe and it is not difficult to make.  You can even have the kids help with this recipe.  What I like about this type of cookie is that you can make the dough ahead of time, roll it into a log, and store it in your refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to bake it into cookies.  The unbaked log can also be frozen for weeks in the freezer.  I find it a great convenience to have homemade frozen cookie dough in the freezer, ready for me when I want a sweet treat.

Sugared Shortbread Cookies
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large egg yolks, save the whites
2 cups all-purpose flour

Decorating sugar

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add the sugars and salt, beating until well combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add in the egg yolks, beat until combined.  With the mixer off, add in the flour.  Mix on low speed until the flour is mostly incorporated.  Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to mix completely using a rubber spatula.  The dough will feel soft and tender.  Transfer the dough to your work surface, divide into 2 pieces.  Shape each piece into a smooth log, roughly 8-inches long.  Wrap each log in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours, but 24 hours is best.  The dough can be kept in the fridge for 3 days or frozen for 6 weeks.

Once you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove 1 log from the refrigerator.  Unwrap the log, placing it on a sheet of wax paper.  Using the leftover egg whites slightly whipped, brush the sides of the log with the whipped egg whites as a "glue" to allow the decorating sugar to stick to the log.  Generously sprinkle the log with the decorating sugar.

Using a thin-bladed sharp knife, slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.  Place the cookie rounds onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Place the sheet tray into the preheated oven onto the center rack.  Bake the cookies for 17-19 minutes, baking one sheet tray at a time.  Keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator until ready to bake.  You will know the cookies are done when they are light brown on the bottoms and the edges, with the tops remaining pale.  Remove the tray from the oven, letting the cookies stay on the sheet tray for 1-2 minutes.  Slide the parchment paper with the cookies in place off the tray and onto the counter to continue cooling.  Cookies are ready to eat when completely cooled.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

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.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

ChezCnidy: Chicken Milanese with Herbed Salad

Chicken Milanese with Herbed Salad

January cooking often takes on themes whether it be "clean" or healthy cooking, cold-weather winter cooking to chase away the chill, or to avoid cooking altogether.  My focus in January, and really anytime of the year, is to focus on flavor.

January might be a good time to expand your taste buds by adding fresh herbs to the food you are preparing.  In the summer, I have my garden full of herbs ready to snip and add to my cooking.  Fortunately, fresh herbs are available year-round in most grocery stores.  Lately, I have been adding mint to more of my foods.  It livens up whatever you are eating from chicken to cauliflower or even ice cream.  The key is to add just a little at first, have a taste, and then decide if more is needed.  Mint packs a powerful punch of flavor so start slowly.

I recently made Chicken Milanese for dinner, which is simply a breaded chicken cutlet, served with salad greens and a few curls of Parmesan cheese.  I often forget to add fresh herbs to my salad, but when I remember to do so, I am always pleased with the results.  Because I am on my winter fresh herbs kick, I had mint, basil and parsley in the fridge.  I used all three in the salad.  The mint sparked the salad with a refreshing zip to the palette.  Mint might not be included on a traditional plate of Chicken Milanese, but herbs such as basil and parsley certainly would.  I encourage you to give it a try.

Chicken Milanese
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper for seasoning

1 cup canola oil for cooking the chicken

To make the chicken:  Place one chicken breast between to sheets of plastic wrap.  Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound out the chicken until it is an even thinness of roughly 1/2-inch.  Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Set up a dredging station with three low-sided bowls, one for each of the flour, egg, and bread crumbs.  Add salt and pepper to the flour and bread crumb; lightly scramble the egg.  Starting with the flour first, lightly coat the chicken breast with flour, shaking off the excess.  Then dip into the egg to evenly coat.  Lastly, dip into the bread crumbs to thoroughly and evenly coat the chicken.  Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Working with a large non-stick skillet, add enough oil to coat the bottom about 1/4 inch.  Heat the oil until it shimmers as the oil needs to be hot before adding the coated chicken breasts.  If your pan is large enough to hold 2 cutlets, carefully add the coated chicken one at a time to the hot oil.  Cook on this first side until golden brown, roughly 3-5 minutes.  Cooking time will depend on how thinly you have pounded the chicken.  It is desirable to have this first side deeply golden brown as this is the plate presentation side.  Once you have peeked to see the underside of the chicken and it nicely browned, carefully using tongs, turn each chicken cutlet over to finish cooking on side two.  When side two is browned, transfer each cutlet to a large tray lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle each cutlet with a bit of kosher or sea salt while hot from the pan.

Serve with an herbed green salad tossed with vinaigrette dressing.  Drizzle additional vinaigrette over the chicken.  Shave a few Parmesan curls over the top.

Herbed Salad
2 cups mixed salad greens
3 tablespoons mixed herbs, mint, parsley and basil
cherry tomatoes, halved
vinaigrette to coat lightly,  recipe here

Combine the salad greens, herbs, and cherry tomato halves into a medium bowl.  Add vinaigrette, tossing to coat.

Recipe serves 2