Saturday, December 12, 2020

ChezCindy: Salmon Pasta with Asiago Cream Sauce


Salmon Pasta with Asiago Cream Sauce is one of the first recipes I created years ago.  I'm not sure why it has not made it to the blog until now.  It is a family favorite, lovingly nick-named as Stephanie's favorite pasta for my niece.  

This is one of those restaurant dishes where I first had a similar dish at a local restaurant.  They took it off their menu and I was determined to make it at home.  I'm certain what I created was not what the restaurant served, but we liked it so much, I stopped trying to make theirs and it became my own.    

This recipe is best served and eaten when made fresh.  It does not reheat well for left-overs as the sauce breaks and separates.  It serves a lot of people so make it for friends and family.  

Salmon Pasta with Asiago Cream Sauce
1 - 1 1/4 pound of salmon, skin removed
2 tablespoons olive oil,
1 teaspoon kosher salt
black pepper to taste

8-10 ounces bowtie pasta

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or just a pinch depending on taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of white pepper
1 cup finely grated Asiago or Fontina cheese
fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the salmon onto a heavy-duty sheet pan.  Drizzle the olive oil evenly over both sides of the salmon.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.  Once the oven has reached temperature, place the sheet tray with the salmon into the oven, center-rack, roasting for 15 - 18 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees, or the salmon feels firm to the touch.  Remove from the oven, set aside for the pasta dish.

Cook the bow-tie pasta as directed on the package.  Drain and set aside.

Begin to make the sauce when the salmon and the pasta are nearly done cooking.  The sauce comes together quickly and does not sit well for a long period of time.  It is better to have the salmon and the pasta waiting, keeping warm while you make the sauce.  

Working in a large stainless steel or non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add in the minced shallots, garlic and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, cooking for 1-2 minutes.  Add in the heavy cream, bringing to a shallow boil.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Add in the red pepper flakes, season with salt and white pepper.  Add in the cheese.  Stir to combine. 

Bring it all together:  Place the cooked pasta into a large bowl.  Pour the sauce over the pasta, mixing to combine.  Break the salmon into medium-sized pieces, adding it to the pasta cream mixture.  Gently stir the salmon into the pasta to coat with the cream sauce.  Sprinkle with extra cheese and chopped parsley.  Serve immediately.  

Saturday, December 5, 2020

ChezCindy: Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders


I'm kind of a magazine hoarder.  One could guess that I subscribe to numerous food magazines.  After I read through each one, tearing out recipes of interest, the magazines get stacked in a spare room.  There are good intentions to organize or do something with the pile that keeps getting larger and more unruly.  Finally with some spare time, I decided to sort through the magazines as a project.  Somehow, a random issue of Food & Wine from 2013 was mixed in with the stack from recent years. True confession, I had magazines from all of 2020, 2019 and some from 2018 to sort through.  When I discovered the 2013 issue, of course I had to stop what I was doing to look through it.  I came upon an interesting recipe for Asian Sloppy Joes, served at "the upcoming Boston gastropub Blue Dragon" owned by chef Ming Tsai.  Chef Tsai offered these as sliders in the bar of Blue Dragon for $1 per slider.    

Below is my adaptation of chef Tsai's recipe as published in Food & Wine January 2013 issue.  The recipe offers a fun twist on a childhood favorite, perfect to satisfy a grown-up palette.  

By the way, I finished my project of sorting through the magazines, tossing out some, but keeping most.  I'm certain I will again discover many over-looked recipes gaining inspiration to share.  

Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound ground beef or ground chicken
1 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce, such as Maggi
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup ketchup

Slider buns
Butter for toasting the buns

Working with a large skillet, heat the oil, adding in the chopped onion and celery.  Cook until softened.  Add in the minced garlic and ginger, stirring to combine.  Add in the ground beef, stirring to break up the meat, combining it with the softened vegetables, cooking until the beef is browned.  Stir in the sweet chili sauce, hoisin sauce, drained chopped tomatoes, and ketchup.  Continue to cook until fully cooked through and the sauce has thickened.  

Toast the buns, first lightly spreading softened butter onto the cut side of the buns.  Then place the butter-side down into a hot non-stick skillet.  Remove the buns from the pan when nicely browned.  

To serve, place a generous spoonful of the sloppy joes onto the bottom toasted bun, cover with the top bun.  

Asian Sauces

Saturday, August 15, 2020

ChezCindy: Savory Corn & Parmesan Custard Soufflé

I have been bringing home farm fresh corn on the cob from my favorite farm stand for weeks now.  Making many of my favorite recipes using fresh corn.  Or, simply eating it buttered and salted straight from the cob.  After a few weeks, I went searching for new corn recipes.  I had never made corn custards before, sometimes referred to as corn pudding.  You can compare this old-fashioned recipe to a quiche, but without the crust.  The combination of corn and Parmesan cheese makes a decadent first course or side dish served in individual ramekins.  

Corn & Parmesan Custard Soufflé 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ears fresh corn
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups heavy cream
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease eight 6-ounce ramekins with the 2 tablespoons of butter,  Set aside.

Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil.  The hot water will be poured into a large roasting pan, surrounding the filled ramekins.  This "water bath process" will result in tender, delicate custards. 

Working with a deep large bowl, cut the kernels from the corncobs.  Season the corn with the tablespoon of salt.  Seems like a lot of salt, but this is the salt for the entire custard batter.  

In a cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Transfer the corn kernels to the hot skillet, cooking the corn for about 2 minutes, stirring the continuously.  Remove the corn from the skillet, allow to cool.

In a bowl or extra-large measuring cup with a pour spout, whisk together the cream, eggs, nutmeg and cornstarch until thoroughly combined.  Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese.  

Once the corn is cool, evenly divide the corn among the 8 buttered ramekins.  Carefully pour the custard mixture into the ramekins over the corn.  If the cheese has sunk to the bottom of the custard, use a large spoon to portion the cheese into each ramekin.  Using the large spoon, gently lift the corn from the bottom of the ramekin to distribute the corn and the Parmesan throughout the custard.  Place the filled ramekins into a large flat-bottomed roasting pan.  Transfer the roasting pan to the oven onto the center rack.  Fill the roasting pan with the hot water from the kettle, surrounding the ramekins with enough water to rise half-way up the sides of the ramekins.  Be careful not to get any water into the custards.  Bake the custards for 20 minutes, rotate the pan 180 degrees for even cooking.  Continue roasting for another 20 minutes.  

After 40 minutes of cooking time, if the tops are not brown, increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Continue cooking the custards for 5-7 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pan every minute or two for even browning on each custard, and the custard tops are slightly puffed.  

Remove the roasting pan from the oven.  Keep the custards in the pan with the water to cool slightly, about 10-15 minutes.  Once cool, use a clean towel to remove each ramekin from the hot water.  

Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Sunday, August 9, 2020

ChezCindy: Salty-Spice Peach Pie Bars

It's peach season.  I hope you are fortunate enough to have access to lovely fresh peaches.  Or even better, to be able to pick your own peaches from a local orchard.  My friend and I have a tradition to drive about 40 miles east of where we live to pick peaches every August.  Truthfully, it is more about the adventure than picking the peaches.  This year we dealt with just a bit of rain, but we didn't mind.  We each came home with a full peck of beautiful peaches.  Most of which I have shared with my neighbors.  A peck is a lot of peaches.

Right away when we got back from our adventure, I began a search of peach recipes.  I had forgotten how many recipes I have on this blog for peaches.  But I am making room for one more.  This simple recipe came from an internet search landing on Martha Stewart.  I have taken a basic recipe and added spice to the peach filling, using cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.  The salt is increased in the dough making it a salty shortbread, complimenting the spice added to the peaches.  None of the ingredients overpowers the other, yielding a balance of salt, spice and sweet.  The corners and the edges have a nice chewy texture, coveted in this household, with softer center pieces which are perfect served with vanilla ice cream.  

Salty-Spice Peach Pie Bars
1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (extra butter for the pan)
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon - divided
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/4 pound peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch dice (3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ginger

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.  Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.  This will help in removing the peach bars from the pan.  Butter the parchment paper.  

Working with a mixer, combine the butter and 1 cup of sugar in the mixing bowl, beating until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the salt to the butter mixture, beating to combine.  Add in the flour, combining on low speed until loosely combined, but not fully together.  Remove 2 and 1/2 cups from the mix, adding this to the prepared baking pan.  Press the dough into the bottom of the pan and 1-inch up the sides of the pan.  The "walls'" formed up the side of the pan will contain the peaches and juice once added to the dough.

Cut the peaches into 1/2 inch pieces, leaving the skin on is okay but removing the pit.  Add the cut peaches to a medium size bowl.  Add in the sugar and the fresh lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Add in the salt and the spices, stirring until well combined.  

Transfer the peaches, pouring onto the prepared crust.  Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the peaches, squeezing the dough into clumps.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top of the dough.  Place the pan into the hot oven, baking for roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes.  The top will be golden brown and the peach juice bubbling up through the top crumble crust.  Remove the pan from the oven, cooling the peach bars in the pan for 20-30 minutes.  Using the parchment paper overhang, lift the peach bars from the pan onto a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.  Cut into squares and serve as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  

Friday, July 31, 2020

ChezCindy: Zucchini Squash Carpaccio

Classic Carpaccio is an appetizer made of thinly sliced raw beef served in a single layer on a platter, topped with either a creamy white sauce or lemon juice and olive oil.  This old-style appetizer has been re-invented for today's modern palate such that almost anything sliced thinly and served on a platter to be dubbed as carpaccio.  How fun is that?  The possibilities are endless with summer produce.  

I have been enjoying zucchini squash carpaccio for some time now.  I like to serve it at the end of my work day as a little nibble with a glass of white wine while I prepare dinner.  Lately, I have been making it for breakfast along side of my eggs in place of toast.  That combo is really good together and it allows me to take a break from the delicious bread I have been making.  

There are two important keys to making zucchini squash carpaccio.  The squash must be evenly sliced into very thin pieces.  Use a mandolin or a food processor.  Second, do not add salt to the pan until the end of the cooking process.  Adding salt right away will cause the natural liquid to leak out of the squash yielding a steamed mushy outcome.  We want the squash to be brown and crisp from the direct heat of the pan.  Here's how to make it.  

Zucchini Squash Carpaccio
2-3 small zucchini or yellow squash
2 teaspoons oil
pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Thinly slice the squash using a mandolin or a food processor.  Place an extra large non-stick sauté pan  over medium-high heat.  Drizzle the oil around the pan to evenly distribute.  Add the squash slices to the pan in a single layer.  It is important that the slices are not piled up on top of each other.  You want each slice to have direct contact with the pan.  At this point, just let the squash slices cook in the pan without moving them around.  This is very passive cooking.  Once you to see the edges begin to curl up and browning occurring on the underside of the slices, you are almost done.  There is no need to turn over the slices as they are fully cooked by this time.  Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the squash, and pepper if you prefer.  Remove the squash from the pan onto a platter into an even layer.  Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.  Top with some chopped fresh herbs if you have them.  Basil or chives would be nice.  

The Zucchini Squash Carpaccio is great served hot from the pan, but is also delicious at room temperature.  Serve as an appetizer nibble, or as a side dish for dinner or breakfast.   

Saturday, July 18, 2020

ChezCindy: Sloppy Joes with Homemade Sloppy Sauce

I developed this Sloppy Joes recipe for a children's cooking class thinking it would please the palette of young people.  But I find myself making it all the time for our grown-up taste buds.  My husband requests it often.  It is an easy make-ahead meal that reheats well, served on soft toasted buns.  I usually sauté a mix of vegetables to serve along side for a complete meal.  The secret ingredient for the sloppy sauce is the McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Without the seasoning blend it lacks the zip which makes these Sloppy Joes appealing to grown-ups.  But the kids liked it too.  Even the young fella who said he hated mustard.  This children's recipe brings big smiles and happy bellies.   

I have made this with ground beef and ground turkey.  Both are delicious.  

Sloppy Joes with Homemade Sloppy Sauce
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-pound ground beef or turkey
8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard
4-ounces ketchup
1/2 teaspoon McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning

Butter for toasting the buns

Working with a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil, chopped onion and bell pepper, and salt.  Stir together, cooking until the vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium-high, add in the ground meat, breaking up into small crumbles; cook until the meat has browned deeply.  Add in the tomato sauce, rinsing out the can with the 3 tablespoons of water, adding the water to the pan.  Stir in the brown sugar, mustard and ketchup, stirring to combine.  Sprinkle in the steak seasoning, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened.  Taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste.  I usually sprinkle in a bit more steak seasoning to make the "joes" more zippy.  

Butter the buns for toasting in a separate skillet.  Serve a generous portion of the Sloppy Joes onto each bun and enjoy. 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

ChezCindy: Mixed Berry Jam with Basil

I held a small dinner party this past week, finishing the evening with a sweet treat of berries and a beautiful cake from Joy Cho Pastries .  Perfect together.  The next day, I realized I had way too many berries leftover.  I decided to combine the berries and make a summer jam.  Making jam sounds like a daunting task but it is quite easy to do.  And the results are fruitful and rewarding.

I used a combination of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and sweet cherries, tossing the berries together, with a few sprigs of basil.  The jam tastes like summer in a jar.  You can use any mix of fresh fruit, and/or herbs being optional.  The basil gives a subtle back note of balance to the sweetness of the fruit and sugar.  Lemon juice is the natural pectin, which also adds brightness to the jam. 

Mixed Berry Jam with Basil
2 pounds of fresh ripe berries
2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 sprigs of fresh herbs, optional

Rinse the fresh fruit, patting dry with paper towels to remove the excess water.  Cut the larger strawberries into pieces, removing the stems, leaving small berries whole such as blueberries or raspberries.  Add the berries and sugar into a medium-sized deep pan.  Stir to combine.  Place the pan over medium-high heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring a few times to bring together.  Add in the sprigs of herbs and the lemon juice, stirring to combine.  Maintain the mix at a steady boil for about 15 - 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Using a candy thermometer, test the temperature of the jam, looking for the mix to be 220 degrees.  If you don't have a thermometer, use the cold spoon test.  Place a metal spoon in the freezer to chill it.  Dip the cold spoon into the jam.  Using your finger, swipe a line across the back the spoon.  The line should hold clear and clean with the jam staying somewhat thick in texture.  Remove the pan from the heat, allowing the jam to cool slightly in the pan. Stir the jam to find the sprigs of herbs; remove and discard the herbs.  Ladle the jam into jars, covering with lids to seal.  Allow the jam to cool in the jars on the counter.  Once cool, keep the jam in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

Friday, June 26, 2020

ChezCindy: Quick Marinated Skirt Steak

The marinade for this skirt steak is a modified recipe adapted from Pat LaFrieda, well renowned New York City butcher.  He is author to the book simply titled Meat - Everything You Need to Know.  His book is more than a recipe book.  Each chapter is dedicated to the various meats, from lamb to poultry to beef.  Mr. LaFrieda informs the reader on how to source the meat, explaining each cut and how to prepare it.  My first favorite recipe from his book is his grandmother's Sunday Sauce, which is pasta with meat sauce.  This Italian meat sauce will make you and your family very happy, using beef short ribs simmering in tomatoes and aromatics for hours.  This recipe is a must make - buy the book if for no other reason than for this recipe.  However, the book brings a wealth of information and shines with recipes you will enjoy and share for years.

Now, back to the quick marinade.  Mr. LaFrieda offers a four ingredient, five-minute skirt steak marinade.  The recipe calls for 2 cups of brown sugar for 3 pounds of steak.  I usually always follow a recipe as written the first time I use it.  This time, I altered at first use.  I cut the sugar in half.  The grilled meat resulted in a sweet-salty goodness, almost like bacon but this is beef.  At first nibble, I blurted out with joy, "This is meat candy!".  I will make this recipe again and again.  The skirt steak can be marinated from 5 minutes, as stated in the recipe title, up to 2 hours.  The steak is grilled for roughly 3 minutes per side for medium rare, letting it rest for 5 minutes before cutting into it.  Serve this with a side dish that can soak up the sweet-salty juices from the steak and marinade, such as rice or even polenta.

Five-minute Marinated Skirt Steak
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
2 pounds skirt steak
1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Combine the sugar, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chopped garlic and rosemary leaves in a re-sealable plastic bag.  Add the skirt steak, seal the bag.  Place in the refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Heat the grill or indoor grill pan to high heat.  Remove the skirt steak from the marinade, allowing the excess to drip away.  Dab away the excess marinade from the meat using paper towels.  This will allow for a better sear on the meat.  Season both sides with kosher salt and black pepper.  Place the steak onto the grill, cooking the first side for 3-5 minutes, allowing the marinade to caramelize on the meat.  Turn the steak onto side 2 cooking for 2-3 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 125-130 degrees.  Set the steak onto a plate to rest for 5 minutes before slicing against the grain.

Click on the link for more detail on slicing against the grain.  Slicing against the grain.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

ChezCindy: Corn & Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots & Mint

Try this lovely salad as a simple lunch, or serving it at a small gathering for brunch. You can roast the carrots ahead of time, even using left-over carrots roasted for last night's dinner.  Use fresh corn cut from the cob for best results. If cutting corn from the cob is new for you, follow the link for instructions on how to do so.  Fresh mint adds a refreshing finish to the salad.  And it gives you a second use to go along with the mojitos you might serve with the salad.  The recipe for the salad dressing is my standard vinaigrette.

Corn and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots and Mint
2 cups fresh corn cut from the cob
4 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups roasted carrots, cut in pieces
4 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
salt & pepper to taste
Agave vinaigrette salad dressing

Combine the cut corn, cooked quinoa, roasted carrots and fresh mint into a large bowl.  Gently stir to combine.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and a small pinch of black pepper over the ingredients.  Spoon on 1/3 cup of vinaigrette, stirring to combine.  Taste, adding more salt or dressing as desired.

Friday, May 15, 2020

ChezCindy: Carrot Cake Tea Cakes

Happy Spring!  Make this elegant yet comforting cake to celebrate each day for the gift it brings.

Carrot Cake Tea Cakes
The Cake
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup dried currents
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1-pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup crushed pineapple

The Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese
1/2-pound unsalted butter (2 sticks) 
1 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of kosher salt
1-pound powdered sugar

Makes 12 large 3/4-cup cupcakes*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 3/4-cup cupcake trays by spraying thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray oil with flour. 

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, using medium-low speed, cream the sugar, oil and eggs together until pale yellow in color and well combined.  Mix in the vanilla.  

In a separate medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; whisk together to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on low speed to combine.  Add in the dried currents and chopped walnuts, stirring until combined.  Add in the grated carrots and the crushed pineapple, mixing until combined.  

Using a large spring-loaded ice cream scoop, transfer the batter into the prepared cupcake holders, filling each cupcake well nearly full, about 3/4 full.  Place the trays on the center rack in the oven, bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven to cool completely.  When cool, invert the cupcakes onto a wire rack.   

Make the frosting while the cupcakes cool.  Using an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and a pinch of kosher salt until combined and creamy.  Add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, on low speed, mixing well.  When most of the sugar has been added, taste for desired sweetness.  Add more sugar, or stop, to your preferred taste.  Frosting should be smooth and creamy.  

Frost each cake generously.  Enjoy.

*Recipe can also make a large cake using 2 8-inch round cake pans.  Adjust bake time to 55-60 minutes.   

Sunday, April 26, 2020

ChezCindy: Asian-style Turkey Meatballs

This week I tried two new recipes.  One really delicious.  The other, just okay.  You can guess which one worked out in that I am writing about Asian-style turkey meatballs.  The other was for Japanese Fried Chicken.  The recipe looked great, and I had all of the necessary ingredients.  I should have known better not to make the fried chicken.  I rarely have success with deep frying foods.  I just haven't mastered this cooking skill.  When I was a kid, my parents didn't deep fry food, so I guess it is a hereditary thing.  Deep frying food requires anywhere from 6-10 cups of oil.  And then there is the question of how to dispose of all the oil.  Maybe I need to consider getting an air-fryer.  Hmmm.  Another new toy.  For now, I'll stick with roasting meatballs in the oven.

I served the meatballs as lettuce cups.  They'd also be good with fluffy rice and steamed green beans for dinner.  Or as an appetizer for a party.

Asian-style Turkey Meatballs
1 pound ground turkey
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Asian Meatball Sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons gochujang siracha sauce (Weak Knees brand recommended)

Make the Meatball Sauce:  Combine the hoisin, sweet chili sauce, and gochujang siracha sauce in a medium size mixing bowl, stirring to combine.  Set aside for use with the meatballs.

Make the Meatballs:  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Working with a large mixing bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients together, mixing until evenly combined.  Scoop out the meat mixture into 1-ounce portions to form meatballs roughly the size of a golf ball.  Place the meatballs in a single layer onto a large sheet pan with sides.  Roast the meatballs in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven, brush the meatballs with half of the sauce.  Continue baking until the meatballs are browned and reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about another 5-6 minutes. 

Remove from the oven.  Transfer the cooked meatballs to the bowl with the remaining sauce.  Toss to coat with the sauce.  Serve with a garnish of thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, red pepper, and cilantro or parsley.  Serve in a lettuce cup for an appetizer, or with steamed white rice for dinner.  Serve hot or at room temperature.


Saturday, April 18, 2020

ChezCindy: Cinnamon-Sugar Banana Bread

Just when I thought there could not be another banana bread recipe I would write about, along comes this one.

The story here is that I have been making food for our friend who is an ER doctor.  He is a bachelor and does not cook.  During this time of Stay at Home, his options for ready to eat food are limited.  One of his favorite sweet treats is anything made with bananas and chocolate.  No shortage of those 2 ingredients in this house.  I had just given him the banana muffins I wrote about recently and was pondering what to make this time.  I remembered a recipe from King Arthur Flour that was actually their Recipe of the Year in 2018.  Right.  Humble banana bread as recipe of the year.  The standout difference for this banana bread is a mix of cinnamon sugar sprinkled over the top before baking.  It forms a crackling crust as it bakes and smells heavenly.  The original recipe calls for walnuts, but could be easily substituted with chocolate chips.  The chocolate, bananas and cinnamon are a great flavor trio.  Below is their recipe with my slight change omitting the walnuts, using chocolate chips instead.  

I'll  try not to add another banana bread recipe in the near future.  I hope you enjoy this one.

Cinnamon-Sugar Banana Bread
2 cups mashed banana, about 4-5 medium size
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips

1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in the center of the oven.  Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla.

In a separate smaller bowl, add the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture.  Thoroughly combine the ingredients together.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.  Mix together the topping of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar topping evenly over the banana batter.

Place the pan into the preheated oven, baking the bread for 65-75 minutes.  Check the loaf around 60 minutes to see if the bread getting too brown.   If so, loosely cover the pan with foil.  Continue to bake until a long toothpick comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs.

Remove the pan from the oven, cooling it on a rack for 20-30 minutes.  Turn the bread out of the pan and continue to cool for another 20 minutes before slicing.

Monday, April 6, 2020

ChezCindy: Sweet-tart Citrus Bars

I recently decided to make Lemon Bars for a friend's birthday treat.  I had 5 whole lemons in the fridge.  I thought that would be sufficient to squeeze out 1 cup of lemon juice.  Nope.  I was already in the middle of baking the crust, so I had to decide what to do, run to the store or improvise.  A quick search in the refrigerator bins brought discovery that I had fresh oranges.  Lemon Bars were now to become Citrus Bars.

It is always a pleasure when an improvisation brings forward something better than the original.  Lemon Bars are a childhood favorite that I have never stopped loving.  But these Citrus Bars might have jumped over as my new favorite.  Using a blend of orange and lemon juice brought a more balanced flavor.  There is the tartness of the lemons, but a hint of sweetness from the oranges.  I also used the zest from each, giving the bars little bits of orange and yellow speckled throughout.  Very pretty and so delicious.

Sweet-tart Citrus Bars
For the Crust:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:
6 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest*
1 teaspoon orange zest*
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, roughly 5-6 lemons
1/3 cup fresh orange juice, roughly 1-2 oranges
1 cup all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the crust:  Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light in color and creamy in texture.  Add in the flour and salt, mix until just starting to come together.  The dough will be crumbly and not fully combined.  Transfer the mix to a 9x13-inch baking pan.  Knead the dough enough to press it into the pan creating an even crust over the bottom of the baking pan.  Chill for 15 minutes.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-17 minutes until lightly browned.  Set aside to cool.

Make the filling:  Whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon & orange zest, lemon & orange juices, and the flour.  Pour over the cooled crust.  Bake in the oven, on the oven rack centered in the oven, for 30-35 minutes until the filling is set.  Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

When cool, cut the dessert into squares or triangles, dust with powdered sugar.

* Remember to zest the citrus before cutting into the fruit.  It is not impossible to zest the lemon or orange after cutting into it, but it is rather difficult.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

ChezCindy: Roasted Shrimp with Pasta

Scrolling through my favorite weeknight recipes, I was looking for my recipe for Salmon with Parsley Walnut Pasta.  I love this dish.  It is quick to come together with ingredients I usually have in the pantry.  I did have one issue. I did not have any salmon.  But, I had frozen shrimp in the freezer.  I thought the shrimp might be a good substitute for the salmon.  Turned out to be to be a really good change up for the salmon.  

Most often when I cook shrimp, I roast it.  Boiling is generally thought of for how to cook shrimp.  But I find that roasting retains greater flavor rather than boiling it away.  For the Roasted Shrimp Pasta dish, I used the exact recipe for Parsley Walnut Pasta.  Roasting the shrimp as shown below, finishing the dish by garnishing with a bit of Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.  

Roasted Shrimp
1 pound shrimp, 12-15 count
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
few grinds of black pepper.  

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and devein the shrimp, rinse and then pat dry to remove excess water.  Place the shrimp onto a sheet tray.  Use one with sides to contain the juices that will come from roasting.  The shrimp can be close together but not crowded.  Drizzle olive oil over each shrimp, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and a bit of cracked black pepper.  Place the tray into the hot oven, roasting the shrimp for 8-9 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Set aside to cool for a minute, serve immediately with the prepared pasta dish.  

Saturday, March 28, 2020

ChezCindy: Simple Roasted Cabbage Planks

If you have never roasted cabbage planks you are in for a real treat.  Roasting vegetables brings out the best in all vegetables, including the humble cabbage.  The leaves soften and lose all bitterness, bringing out a gentle sweetness and golden buttery flavor.  I used green cabbage here.  Both red or green cabbage are equally delicious.  

I can eat the cabbage planks as a snack straight from the pan.  Or to be more civilized, they can be an unexpected side dish for roast chicken and mashed potatoes.  

If you want to stay lighter for a meatless meal, serve the roasted cabbage with fettuccini pasta tossed with crumbled feta cheese, chopped parsley and olive oil.  All good.  

Roasted Cabbage Planks
1 medium head of cabbage, red or green
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  

Working with a large sheet pan, drizzle the pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. 

Cut the cabbage in half through the core.  Set each half flat-side down onto the cutting board.  Leaving the core in place, cut through the core for each half to make 3-4 wedges (6-8 wedges in total).
Place each wedge onto the sheet pan, drizzle the remaining oil over the planks, turning over to drizzle both sides.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and a bit of black pepper to taste.  

Place the sheet pan into the hot oven, roasting the planks for 20-30 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven, carefully turning each plank over to brown the second side.  The first side should be nicely browned and crisp at the edges.  Roast for another 10 minutes to brown the second side.  If you have cut the planks into thick wedges, you may need more roasting time.  The planks are done when the leaves are tender and the edges are browned.  Serve hot or room temperature.

Monday, March 23, 2020

ChezCindy: Easiest Baked Bread

I made this bread.  It's gorgeous, right?  And it's not one of those products that looks great and tastes like cardboard.  This has great taste and texture.  The reason I am being so boastful is that you too can bake this bread.  The recipe comes straight from  King Arthur Flour .  I followed their recipe and process step by step, as so greatly illustrated on their web site.  At this time of staying at home, it is a good idea to complete a task that will make you feel proud and productive, and also nourish you and your loved ones.

The recipe is titled  the easiest loaf of bread youll ever bake .  And it is.  I have been baking bread for years.  I don't do it frequently, but I am always amazed at how simple ingredients come together and rise into a loaf of bread.  If you have never baked with yeast, kneading and creating bread from scratch, baking this recipe will surprise and delight you.  Give it a try.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

ChezCindy: Spanish Chorizo Brunch

This dish feeds a crowd and is packed with a lot of flavor.  Spanish chorizo, smoked paprika and roasted peppers are the key ingredients.  I served this as a brunch dish topped with an egg, but it can easily be dinner paired with naan bread or piled into lettuce cups.  I used cauliflower rice, but any rice preference works here, basmati or brown.  Have the rice cooked and cooled, then reheat it with the cooked chorizo to absorb all of the flavors and spices.  Make this when you want something that is quick to come together with big flavor.  

Spanish Chorizo Brunch
8 ounces fresh chorizo
1/2 large red onion
2 large roasted peppers, jarred
4 ounces chickpeas, about half a can - drained
2-3 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Fried or poached eggs

Working with a large skillet, add the fresh chorizo to the pan cooking over medium-high heat.  Stir the chorizo breaking it up into small pieces until browned and cooked through.  Add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil if the chorizo has not rendered much fat.  Slice the onion into vertical strips, add to the pan cooking until the onion slivers soften and begin to brown.  Remove 2 large roasted peppers from the jar, drain off the excess liquid onto paper towels.  Slice the peppers into strips, add to the pan stirring to combine.  Stir in the chickpeas and cooked rice, using the full 3 cups if you have a lot of people to feed.  Add in the fresh herbs, salt, pepper and smoked paprika, stirring to combine.  Stir in the remaining olive oil to loosen and flavor the mixture, cover and cook for roughly 5 minutes to allow all the flavors to come together.  Serve hot, topping each portion with a cooked egg.  

Saturday, March 21, 2020

ChezCindy: Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins

I ate four of these muffins in one day.  Maybe I was craving the comfort of carbs, but each muffin made my taste buds very happy.  They are kind of "healthy" but are so moist with great flavor of banana, chocolate and ground nuts.  The original recipe inspiration is from a cookbook titled Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.  Ms. Boyce is a talented pastry chef with her book focusing on using whole grains in her recipes.  Some of the grains featured are gluten-free, while others are ancient grains, with all recipes balanced and full of flavor.  She demonstrates tips and techniques for every level of baker.  It is a go-to book for me when I want to bake, but also am trying to bake something a bit less indulgent but tastes like a dream.  This muffin offers a dream come true.

You may have read one of my previous posts that this household has no shortage of bananas that become too ripe for cereal eating.  Bananas  The frugal person I tend to be does not allow me to easily throw away the over-ripe bananas.  I often freeze them or bake with them.  I have frequently made Ms. Boyce's recipe for Banana Walnut Cake, which was my start for the recipe below.  This time I didn't want to commit to a cake.  I wanted something more snackable.  Her recipe could easily be turned into cupcakes.  Without icing, I am calling them muffins.

Don't be put off by the recipe calling for quinoa flour.  You can easily substitute whole wheat flour or use 100% all-purpose flour.  I used coconut oil in place of the butter called for in the original recipe.  Banana, coconut and chocolate go together very well in this recipe.  Just try to eat only one.  Maybe two.

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, or a mix of each
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup softened coconut oil or unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 ripe bananas, medium in size
2 eggs
1/3 cup yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Makes 18 muffins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the oven rack in the center of the oven.  Prepare standard cupcake trays with paper cupcake liners or spray with baking spray.

Place the toasted nuts into a food processor.  Pulse to grind the nuts into a fine-ground texture.

Place the dry ingredients into a small mixing bowl, quinoa flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix to combine.  Add the ground nuts to the flour mixture.  Set aside.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the softened coconut oil and both sugars to the mixing bowl.  Mix on medium speed to cream the ingredients together.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add in the peeled bananas mixing for a minute or so until the bananas are mashed and combined.  Add in the eggs, one at a time mixing until just combined.  Add in the yogurt and vanilla to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the flour/nut mixture to the wet ingredients mixing on low speed just until combined.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl to ensure all ingredients have been combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a 1/4-cup spring-loaded ice cream scoop, scoop out level scoops into each cupcake liner.  Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs.  Remove from the oven, allowing the muffins to cool in the trays for about 20 minutes.

The recipe can also be baked as a 9-inch single layer cake.  Grease the cake pan with butter or baking spray, line the bottom of the pan with a 9-inch round parchment paper.  Transfer the prepared batter into the cake pan, baking for 50-60 minutes until the cake is golden brown and fully baked in the cake center.  Cool in the pan for 35 minutes.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

ChezCindy: Coconut Rice with Chickpeas and Broccoli

I have become a rice convert and am fully committed to buying huge bags of cauliflower rice from Costco.  They sell it frozen in 5 1-pound bags.  Knowing that no one else in this house eats cauliflower, that is a lot of cauli-rice for one person.

I mentioned this dish in a post last month new recipes post that I picked up from Kelly LeVeque's web site.  Her recipe offers this with chicken, very good.  I have changed the recipe adding more coconut milk for a creamier rice, a few other tweaks, and substituted chickpeas.

If you are not a fan of cauliflower rice, you can make this with regular rice.  The regular rice, white or brown, will need to be fully cooked before starting this recipe.  So it is a great head start when you have leftover rice from another time, even from Chinese take out.

Creamy Coconut Cauliflower Rice
2 cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons coconut milk
4 cups frozen uncooked cauliflower rice*
2 tablespoons butter
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Working with a large saucepan, blanch the broccoli florets.  Do this by filling the pan with 3 inches of water.  Bring the water to a boil, add the broccoli to the pan cooking it for about 4 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to lift and remove the broccoli from the water.  Place the broccoli on a towel to drain.  You may need to do this is 2 batches.  Set aside.

Drain the water from the large saucepan used to cook the broccoli.  Place the pan back onto the stovetop over medium heat.  Add in the coconut oil, swirling to melt and coat the bottom of the pan.  Add in the cauliflower rice, coconut milk and a pinch of salt, stirring all to combine.  Cook the rice for roughly 5 minutes to heat and cook through.  Add in the butter, chickpeas and soy sauce, stirring together.  Add in the still warm broccoli, stirring to combine.  Taste to adjust seasoning to your palette, adding salt and pepper.  Serve with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

*This dish can be made with regular white or brown rice, fully cooked for use in this recipe.

Cauliflower has just 25 calories per cup vs rice with 200 calories.  The carb count is 5g per cup vs 46g for rice.  It is very healthy, but mostly, it is delicious.  

Sunday, January 26, 2020

ChezCindy: Cinnamon Spiced Apple Crisp

I have a dear friend who makes a delicious Berry Crisp dessert.  When a group of us are coming together for a dinner gathering, she will offer to bring the dessert to which the answer is "Yes, please bring your awesome Berry Crisp!".  She does not use a recipe.  But it comes out fantastic every time.

Below is my recipe for Apple Crisp.  Like my friend, a recipe can serve as a guide, sending you in the direction of creating your own Fruit Crisp dessert.  Crisps can be made with any fruit or combination of fruit.  Frozen fruit can also be used, such as berries and cherries.  My preference is to go heavy on the amount of oatmeal used, cutting back on the flour.  I often add chopped walnuts and vary on the spices depending on what fruit is used.

Use this recipe as your starting point and then make it your own.  

Cinnamon Spiced Apple Crisp
4 pounds Golden Delicious apples
zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Crisp Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 sticks cold unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 6 small ramekins, place onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  

Peel, core and cut the apples into thin wedges.  Combine the apples with the orange zest, juices, sugar and cinnamon.  Toss together until the apples are well coated.  Spoon the apples into the prepared ramekins, dividing equally, leaving enough room for the added crisp topping, roughly 1/2-inch.  

Make the crisp topping in a food processor by adding the flour, sugars, salt and oatmeal into the bowl fitted with the blade in place.  Pulse for a few seconds to combine.  Dice the cold butter into small 1/2-inch pieces.  Add to the processor bowl.  Pulse 2-3 times until the mixture is crumbly with the butter still showing in small bits.  Using a large spoon, evenly divide the crisp topping over the apples.  

Place the sheet tray into the hot oven.  Bake for roughly 55-60 minutes until the tops are golden and the filling is just starting to bubble on the edges.  

Serve warm with ice cream.  

Saturday, January 18, 2020

ChezCindy: Walnut Rosemary Bread with Golden Raisins

At the start of this new year, I gave myself a goal of trying 4 new recipes each month.  I didn't think this was too aggressive for me.  But life gets busy, so why add unneeded pressure.  Sure enough, I had made 4 new recipes by January 12 without even thinking about it.  Let's see how the rest of the year goes.

Early in the month I made a soup recipe that I had torn from a Cooking Light magazine from 2017.  The recipe was titled Immunity Soup using ingredients that help boost the immunity system.  The recipe was basically a homemade chicken soup with added ingredients to bolster the healthy factor.  You could start with my chicken soup recipe, here adding in 6-8 cloves of minced garlic - a powerful antioxidant, sliced mushrooms for vitamin D, chopped kale for vitamin C, and chickpeas for protein and zinc.

I also tried a new source for recipes going to Kelly LeVeque's web site.  Kelly is a social media wellness expert and nutritionist.  She has a really delicious Cauliflower Rice with Creamy Coconut Chicken and Broccoli recipe on her site.  I loved it.  I made brown rice for my husband who will not eat cauliflower.  Easy, healthy and super good.  You can find the recipe at here .

I did have one failed recipe from a very trusted source in one of my cookbooks.  I made baked chicken breasts with Tuscan bread crumbs.  It did not work out well.  Too heavy on the bread crumbs.  We ate it for one meal with lots of leftover chicken that the dogs enjoyed.  Lucky pups.

One of the recipes I tried was a yeast dough walnut bread.  I sought out a basic recipe knowing that I wanted to add fresh rosemary.  Inspiration came from a food memoir I was reading with the author referencing a walnut rosemary bread in one of the chapters.  Sadly, she did not include the recipe.  So I was determined to figure it out.  I started with a basic recipe from King Arthur Flour web site and added my own twists.  It came out lovely and delicious.  The recipe makes two golden brown loaves, which I shared with my nieces and their families.  Sharing was a must.  The bread is so delicious I could have eaten all of it!

Walnut Rosemary Bread with Golden Raisins
1 1/2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup agave sweetener
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5-6 cups bread flour
1 1/3 cups toasted chopped walnuts
2/3 cup golden raisins
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the bread dough hook, add the warm water to the bowl.  Add the yeast to the water to dissolve.  Mix in 1/2 cup of flour and letting the mixture stand without mixing for 10 minutes.  This will wake up the yeast to get the action started.

Stir in the agave, oil and salt.  Add in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing with the dough hook running on low to medium speed for the entire time.  The dough will become formed into a shaggy mess and will be a bit difficult to stir at the end of the process.  At this point, turn off the mixer and turn out the dough onto a lightly floured counter.  Continue kneading by hand until a smooth satiny ball is formed.

Prepare a large bowl by drizzling a tablespoon of oil into the bowl.  Using a paper towel, lightly coat the inside of the bowl with the oil.  Place the ball of dough into the oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it with the oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the bowl in a warm spot so that the dough can rise until double in size.  This will take roughly 1 1/2 hours.

When the dough is puffy and double in size, remove the plastic wrap.  Using your hand, gently deflate the dough by pushing down in the center.  Add in the chopped walnuts, golden raisins and chopped rosemary.  Knead the dough to incorporate the walnuts, raisins and rosemary.  Transfer the dough to the counter to continue kneading and incorporating the chopped ingredients.  This will take 5 minutes or so.  Divide the dough in half.  Form each half into a smooth ball.  Place each ball onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I used 2 sheets that fit side by side in my oven on one rack.  Cover the loaves loosely with a damp towel.  Place the trays in a warm spot, allowing the loaves to rise.  This will take about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the towel.  Sprinkle a bit of flour on top of each loaf.  Cut 3-4 slashes across the top of each loaf, 1-inch deep.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the loaves are golden brown.  The loaves will sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Place the loaves on a rack to cool for about 20 minutes.  It is very tempting to cut in sooner, but be patient before cutting to enjoy.   Serve with salted butter.