Friday, May 27, 2011

Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad

Heidi101 recipe #2 of the week. She is 2 for 2. We loved the panzanella and now we're loving this carrot and bean salad atop steamed tilapia. I'm developing a regular habit of omitting the last ingredient in most recipes due to any number of quaint factors that diminish my mental capacity. That is, I just this minute was reminded that there should have been an almondy crunch to complete the dish. Didn't miss it but I'm sure it'd be lovely.


I like to buy young carrots at the farmers' market - slice them slightly thicker than a banana chip for this salad.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots

more olive oil (or ghee) for cooking
2 cups sliced carrots, cut 1/4-inch thick on deep bias
3 cups cooked white beans
scant 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or honey)
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and shallots in a small bowl. Stir and set aside.

In your largest skillet over medium high heat, toss the carrots with a splash of olive oil or a spoonful of ghee (I love ghee with carrots). Let them cook in a single layer - they'll give off a bit of water at first. Keep cooking, tossing gently every three or four minutes until the carrots are deeply browned. All told, about twelve minutes.

Add the beans and dill to the skillet and cook for another five minutes, or until the beans as well heated through. If you are using beans that weren't canned you can allow them to brown a bit as well (just cook a bit longer, and stir less frequently) - they can handle this in a way that most canned beans can't. If you need to add a bit more olive oil to the pan - do so.

Place the contents of the skillet in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with the brown sugar and pour the 3/4 of the lemon-olive oil mixture over the top. Toss gently. Let sit for ten minutes. Toss gently once again, taste and adjust with more salt or sugar or lemon juice if needed to balance the flavors. Serve warm or at room temperature and finish by sprinkling with the almonds just before serving.

Serves 6 - 8 as a side.

Prep time: 10 min - Cook time: 20 min

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring Panzanella

So I have been feeling more than mildly interested in Heidi101's new book (fickle, I know), but worried that after reading it I'd just want to magically transport my family to her SF neighborhood where we would grow millet pods and farro trees and demararra sugarbushes and I can be the whole new me who is always patient with my children...

Anyway, Grg made a good series of suggestions
1) Don't buy the book when you know where to get the recipes for free.
2) If I really want to make her food, then make her food, then decide whether I'm going to...
3) check it out of the library or not.

Great advice, Grg. So here we go! Three 101 recipes on the menu for the week. The first one is this panzanella and it was wonderful. I forgot to add the basil at the end and it was still wonderful. I made a giant heap of it and was literally passing bowls of it to neighbors who were enjoying their porches last evening on my block.

I made one addition because we were going to eat it for dinner and we were going to need more protein. I added cubes of baked tofu. I drained two blocks of extra firm, cut into 1/2" cubes, arranged in one layer in a pyrex casserole, splashed everything with just a little tamari (go with me on this - it did not add an incongruous asian flavor; it just tasted like cheese. Ask my adorable 5 year old neighbor who liked it! Hooray!), baked for 30 min at 350 after the bread cubes came out. Easy.

The flavors of the naked peas and asparagus with the thyme, shallot and garlic on the bread cubes was awesome. I cooked while listening to this and the harmonies took the top of my head off. Who knew there was a current day college-age girl group sensation reminiscent of this amazingness, which I love beyond all else? Sign me up. I will wear that hat if I get to sing with these ladies. Make the bread salad and sing like a Bulgarian lady. You will be happy.


The bread I used also had walnuts and dried cranberries in it, but I think I'd prefer a seeded whole wheat version. Use whatever you like.

1 lb loaf of hearty, day-old, whole wheat bread into 1-inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme - just pluck leaves from the sprig
a couple pinches of salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, cut into segments
2 cups peas, fresh or frozen
4 handfuls spinach
1/4 cup small basil leaves

In a large bowl toss the bread with the garlic, shallot, thyme, salt and olive oil. Turn the bread out onto a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes - or until they are nice and golden and crunchy.

In a cold skillet pour in a splash of olive oil, a splash of water, and a couple pinches of salt. Dial up the heat and when the water starts to bubble stir in the asparagus. Cover, wait about twenty seconds, now add the peas. Cover, wait a few seconds, now add the spinach. Cover and cook just a few more seconds until the spinach starts to collapse just a bit.

Put the bread crumbs in a large bowl. Now pour the asparagus and peas and all the pan juices over the top of the bread.

Give it a good toss, add the basil leaves and toss again. Serve the salad family-style on a big platter.

Makes about 6 - 8 servings.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bow Ties with Tomatos, Feta, and Balsamic Dressing

Geoff and I made this for dinner last night. I was a little skeptical of putting tomatoes and grapes together, but it was a really simple and delicious dish that came together easily. Cooking Light recommends serving this with pan-grilled asparagus. We intended to do that, but ended up skipping it, since we weren't that hungry. Recipe for asparagus is at the bottom.

Bow Ties with Tomatoes, Feta, and Balsamic Dressing
Source: Cooking Light, July 2009

Serves 4
Prep time: 20 minutes


6 ounces uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta) (we bumped this up to 8 oz, since it was easier to estimate it from a 16 oz box)
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (we used regular balsamic vinegar....the result wasn't as pretty as the picture, but we figured the flavor was the same)
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 teaspoons capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (we finely chopped one small- to medium-sized clove)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1(4-ounce) package crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese


1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Combine cooked pasta, tomatoes, grapes, and basil in a large bowl.

2. While pasta cooks, combine vinegar and next 6 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add oil to vinegar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Add cheese; toss to combine.

(Note: We're keeping the dressing and cheese separate from the salad, since we're not eating this all at once.)

Pan-grilled asparagus: Combine 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1 pound trimmed asparagus. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add asparagus to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, turning once.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

frittata of goodness and diversity

I made this with asparagus, caramelized onions and chicken-apple sausage, but you could really use any combination of stuff that sounds good -- I think you just need enough veg and sausage to fill the skillet about halfway. It's tempting to fill it even more, but don't go so high that it will hit the top of your broiler, or else your frittata will be burned and sad.

4 chicken-apple sausages, chopped into small pieces
one huge bunch of asparagus, sliced diagonally into small pieces
4 onions, caramelized using Alissa's quiche technique
6 eggs
splash of skim milk
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper
parsley for sprinkling (optional)
green onions, diced for the top (optional)
hot sauce of some type (optional) (this one's not really that optional)

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or other oven-safe pan, which is about to get a workout.

Caramelize the onions and remove them all from the pan, but leave the nice brown stuff sticking to the bottom.

Cook the asparagus in that, about 3-4 minutes or until crunchy but tender. Set aside.

Cook the chicken sausage about 8 minutes, until browned. Add back in as much of the other stuff as you want; I used all the asparagus and about half the onions.

Turn on the broiler.

Scramble up the eggs and the splash of milk and the salt and pepper. Pour it over the sizzling veggie/sausage/whatever mixture and let cook on medium -- make sure it's not too high or the bottom will burn before the top is cooked -- until the sides are well set and beginning to brown, but the middle will still be runny.

Remove the pan from the stovetop and throw it under the broiler until the top is golden brown, about 4 or 5 minutes.

Let sit for a few minutes (we didn't do this and should have; the first pieces fell apart). Cut, sprinkle with green onions and parsley and hot sauce, and eat.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fudge Brownies

From: King Arthur

Uh... nom, nom, nom. These are really rich and delicious. I usually feel like I could eat a second brownie (I love brownies), but these were so rich that one was plenty. They are rich, dark, and fudgy but without the "underbaked" consistency that you often find in brownies. Taking a page from Heidi's book (well, the way Heidi baked brownies in the late 90's) - I sprinkled Heath Bar bits over the top of half of these. I love anything with Heath Bar in it. Anyway.... these were great. I made them to take in to work tomorrow for someone's birthday, which is good because I couldn't eat a ton of these even if I wanted to, so I'm glad they won't be sticking around my house long.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips
(heath bar bits for top, optional)

1)Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

2)In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

3) While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.

4) Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

5) Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.

6) Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.

7) Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

Monday, May 09, 2011

lemon orzo with spring veggies

One pot and one cutting board only! I'm going to be eating this for lunch all week. Based heavily on another lemon orzo recipe from Everybody Loves Sandwiches.

half a box of orzo
one bag baby spinach
one bunch asparagus, sliced in 1/4-inch pieces on the diagonal
handful of frozen peas
2 T olive oil
juice and zest from one or two lemons
2 fat clove garlic, minced
half an onion, minced (red would have been better)
about 2 T grated parmesan
1/3 c feta cheese, crumbled
good grind of black pepper
almonds or chickpeas (optional)

Cook orzo in salted water until it's about half done, stirring frequently. Throw in the asparagus and peas and cook until everything is tender.

Turn off the heat and add the spinach, stirring until wilted.

Drain it all.

Throw everything else in but the feta. If you use feta, you probably won’t need salt, but adjust seasonings to your taste. Wait until it's fairly cool to put in the feta so it doesn't melt in.

ELS also puts freshly roasted almonds on top, which sounds delicious and would add some protein.

WW points: 5(-ish) per cup

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Spring minestrone

I'm making this soup right now, and just commented to Ernie "this is everything good about spring, all in one pot."
I also lightened up the original recipe just a bit, by adding more green and less potato. I'm sure it's lovely with all that potato, but then I can't justify eating it as often as I'd like to.

1 Tbsp olive oil
6 green onions
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 pound fingerlings, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 quart vegetable stock
1/2 pound artichoke hearts (I used those lovely frozen ones from Trader Joes)
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 cups greens (dandelion, chard, spinach, kale, arugula, etc), sliced into thin ribbons (I used rainbow chard)
Up to 1/4 cup pesto
Grated parmesan or pecorino cheese for garnish (I will omit, sadly)

Chop the green onions and green garlic and separate the white and light green parts from the green tops. If you are using regular garlic cloves, put them with the white parts of the green onions. Slice the potatoes and artichoke hearts into chunks you would want to eat with a spoon.
In a large pot set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil for 1 minute. Add the white parts of the green onions as well as the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the potatoes, stir to combine and cook 1 minute.
Add the diced tomatoes with their liquid and the quart of vegetable or chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, add salt to taste, then cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
Add the artichoke hearts and cook another 5 minutes, then add the chickpeas and green peas and cook another 5 minutes. Remove the cover from the soup and add the asparagus. Cook 2 minutes. Add the greens and the green parts from the green onions and green garlic, if using. Stir well to combine and cook 1 minute.
Turn off the heat and stir in the pesto. Serve topped with grated cheese.

(6 WW points)

Salmon with mustard-herb crust

And yet another Weight Watchers recipe. This one was also surprising, because it didn't taste like diet food at all.

3 Tbsp rosemary, leaves, fresh, chopped
3 Tbsp thyme, fresh, leaves, fresh, stemmed
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 spray(s) cooking spray
1 1/4 pound(s) salmon fillet(s), with or without skin, Atlantic, skinless (four 5-ounce pieces)
4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard, regular or grainy-variety

Turn on the broiler and get it nice and hot.
Mix the rosemary, thyme and pepper in a small bowl.
Spray the bottom of the fish fillets with nonstick spray.
Spread 1 tablespoon mustard on the top of each fillet. Sprinkle about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the herb mixture on top of each.
Place herb side up on the grate directly over the heat. Cover the grill and cook until the fish flakes when gently scraped with a fork, about 12 minutes. Transfer to plates with a wide spatula. Yields 1 fillet per serving.

(4 Servings, 7 WW Points per serving)

Chicken and peppers with chimichurri sauce

Another Weight Watchers recipe. I think we were all surprised how good it really was.

1 cup(s) parsley, fresh, leaves
1/2 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, leaves
1 clove(s) (large) garlic clove(s), smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
1/4 cup(s) water
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 spray(s) cooking spray
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces
1 medium sweet red pepper(s), sliced into 1-inch strips
1 medium orange pepper, sliced into 1-inch strips
1 medium yellow pepper(s), sliced into 1-inch strips

In a blender, place parsley, cilantro, garlic, water, vinegar, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend on high, pulsing, until a smooth sauce is formed; set aside.
Coat a stovetop grill pan with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Place chicken in pan and grill until cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side; remove chicken from pan, cover to keep warm and set aside.
Off heat, recoat grill pan with cooking spray and set pan back over medium-high heat. Place peppers in pan and cook until grill marks show on peppers, about 3 minutes per side. Serve chicken and peppers drizzled with chimichurri sauce.

(4 Servings. 4 WW points per serving)

Mashed cauliflower and potato

Weight Watchers calls these "mock mashed potatoes" but honestly? Just call them what they are -- mashed cauliflower with a few potatoes thrown in.
In any case, it's really good. And doesn't completely alleviate my craving for mashed potatoes, but are a good substitute.
And Katie liked them, too.

8 oz cauliflower, florets
3 small uncooked Yukon Gold potato(es), peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 10 oz) (I used red potatoes)
2 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), peeled
1 tsp table salt, divided
1/4 cup(s) low-fat milk
2 tsp butter
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp chives, fresh, snipped

Place cauliflower, potatoes, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil until vegetables are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes; drain and return to saucepan.
Stir in milk, butter, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper; mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in chives and serve. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.

(2 WW Points per serving)

Turkey Swedish meatballs

Meatballs are a favorite with the little smaller members of our household, so I'm always looking for a new way to make them.
I lightened these up from the original recipe, so that it didn't cost me as many Weight Watchers points. Yes, I'm becoming that person.
Still, they were good.

½ cups Minced Fresh Onion
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
20 ounces, weight Lean Ground Turkey
1 whole Egg
½ cups Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Ground Allspice
¼ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
1 whole 14.5 Oz. Can Low Sodium chicken broth
3 Tablespoons All-purpose flour
¼ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
½ teaspoons Salt, Or To Taste
¼ cups Light Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In small skillet, heat olive oil over med. heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute 2-3 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
In medium mixing bowl, combine turkey, onions and garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, 1 T. Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 T. parsley, allspice, and nutmeg.
Shape meat mixture into 1″ balls and place in baking dish. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through.
Pour broth and flour into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously minutes, or until flour is dissolved.
Pour mixture into large skillet with lid and add remaining Worcestershire, black pepper, and salt to taste.
Heat to a boil over med.-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to med-low and stir in sour cream. Add meatballs and cover. Simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over egg noodles, if desired.

(6 servings, 4 WW Points per serving)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Pavlova with Berries and Dark Chocolate Sauce

From my favorite domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson.

If you are a fan of Nigella then you know that she includes at least one recipe for a pavlova in pretty much every cookbook. This one is from Feast and I adapted it a smidge and added chocolate sauce on top. Note, this is NOT a dessert that you make at the last minute. The pav needs to bake for 1.5 hrs and then be allowed to cool completely in the oven. The rest comes together in a snap, tho. Also, it looks magnificent and the guests at the dinner party where I served this dessert were thrilled. Also? Gluten-free.

Really important note: DO NOT USE egg whites from a carton. It will result in a fail. Use whites from eggs you cracked yourself being very careful not to get a single speck of yolk in them. Save the yolks for use in making ice cream or custard.

Makes 10-12 servings.

For the pav:

8 egg whites
pinch salt
2.5 C sugar (super-fine if you have it)
4 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp champagne or white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 C heavy whipping cream
3 C assorted berries (I used macerated strawberries and added blackberries before serving)
dark chocolate sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment and trace a 10" circle in the middle; set aside. In the bowl of your mixer, add egg whites and salt. Whip at high speed until satiny peaks form. Beat in sugar 1/4 C at a time until meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over cornstarch, vinegar and extract and whisk to combine. Mound onto baking sheet within the circle and smooth sides and top with an offset spatula. Put in the oven and IMMEDIATELY reduce temp to 300. Bake for 1.25 to 1.5 hrs. It will have risen and cracked on the top and a little around the sides. If it is not dry and crispy looking on the outside give it a little more time in the oven. When done, turn off oven and open door, leaving the pav inside to cool completely.

When ready to serve, whip the cream until soft and fluffy but not stiff. Invert the pav onto a serving platter and mound whipped cream on top. Spoon over berries and drizzle chocolate sauce (warm slightly if need be for ease of pouring) over top. Serve immediately and be sure to eat it all up. This is not a dessert that can be easily stashed in the fridge to be eaten later. The cream will separate a bit and the pav will get soft and mushy. And, OMG, this is one heavenly dessert. It is light and airy yet satisfying.