Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Miso Spice #KitchenMatrixCookingProject

It's Tuesday.  That means it is #KMCP day.  Each Tuesday for the next year a few of us are getting together and sharing our thoughts on recipes inspired or taken from The Kitchen Matrix by Mark Bittman.  This great idea was thought up by Cam of Culinary Adventure with Camilla.  You can learn more about it and how to join in the fun at her introduction post.

Last week, I shared with you a Miso Scented Pasta with Celery.  This was inspired from the Celery section of the cookbook.  The miso stock in which I boiled the pasta came from the prior week's theme of  Quick Stocks.  

See that sprinkling of what looks like coffee on that pasta?  That is actually this month's recipe taken from the Miso section of Bittman's cookbook.  It is miso spice and Bittman compares it to Parmesan Cheese.  In fact, Bittman states that if he were on a deserted island and could only have one or the other, he would opt for the spice over the cheese.

I wouldn't go that far but it is an easy recipe and used up some of the red miso paste I had bought to make the stock.  These two recipes are my first foray using miso. They won't be my last, only because I still have half a package of miso in my fridge and it is not inexpensive so I need to use it.  
Luckily there is an entire section of recipe ideas in the Kitchen Matrix for me to experiment with.

Spread the miso, as thinly as possible, onto a parchment paper or silicone matted baking pan.  Put into a preheated 175* oven for several hours until easily lifted from the lining.  Flip over, bake for another 3-4 hrs until completely dry and able to be broken into chunks.  Place the chunks into a food processor and pulse until finely grated.  Use as you would Parmesan Cheese, or not....I think I'll stick to Parmesan.

Let's see what the others decided to make from Miso.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Gratin #EasterRecipes

Christie, of a Kitchen Hoor's Adventures , invited members of our Festive Foodies group to join her on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week posting recipes to help our readers get ready for Easter.

I will be joining in the fun for all three days, starting with a vegetable side that is sure to be a hit for your Easter Banquet.

I don't know about you but I like to go all out on Holidays and Easter is my favorite Holiday of all.  We will have a sit down dinner that will start with a first course, normally some sort of seafood.  This is followed by soup and then a salad.  The entrée will contain 3 or 4 meats.  There is always Ham, always Kielbasa, usually lamb and then a beef or chicken dish of some sort.  Sides always include some sort of potato dish and usually a sweet potato dish of some sort, as well.  Baked pineapple and baked beans to go with the ham. Several vegetables are also served.  Fresh asparagus and buttered corn for sure and then one or two more. There is always a butter lamb and fresh baked bread.  We gorge and then eat leftovers all week long.

This Broccoli and Blue Cheese Gratin is so good and I promise that if you leave off the blue cheese in the title even blue cheese haters will eat it, love it and be none the wiser.  And as a bonus, the leftovers can be turned into a kick butt soup.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in a Williams Sonoma cookbook.  I used gorgonzola cheese to keep it mild, as my husband and some of the kids don't care for blue cheese.  I didn't mention to them that there was blue cheese in the dish.  They loved it and a couple of them went back for seconds.

This dish can be made ahead of time but wait to add the bread crumbs right before it goes into the oven so it doesn't get soggy.

This is a great side for Easter because many enjoy ham for dinner. I think that nothing is better with ham than broccoli and cheese. YUM

Stop by and visit all the other Easter Recipes.  You will find links at the bottom of this post.

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Gratin
adapted from William Sonoma

2 - 3 lbs. broccoli florets
1/4 stick butter
4 T. flour
2 1/2 c. milk, full fat
salt and pepper to taste
3 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
3/4 c. dried bread crumbs

Place the broccoli florets in a steamer and cook for about 15 minutes, until tender.  

While broccoli is steaming, melt the butter in a saucepan over med high heat.  Add the flour and whisk in.  Reduce the heat to low and add the milk, whisking constantly until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 10-15 minutes until thickened.  Stir in blue cheese just until melted and remove from heat.

Add the broccoli to the blue cheese sauce and gently fold in until coated. Pour mixture into a casserole that has been treated with butter or cooking spray.  Don't worry if it is soupy, it will continue to thicken as it bakes.  Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and bake in a preheated 350* oven for about half an hour, until hot and bubbly and the bread crumbs are toasty brown.  Print Recipe

Easter Week Recipes

Monday Easter Week Recipes

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Celebrating Sunday and the Weekly Menu

Happy Sunday everyone.  I hope that you have a fun, relaxing day scheduled.  Our pastor often preaches that Sundays should be the day that you "chill".  Go for a walk, take a nap, do a favorite sport or hobby but make it a day of rest.  That sounds good to me.

So that is what we are doing today.  We are meeting our brother and sister in law, Dan and Rebecca for brunch where we will toast her birthday.  This evening we have been invited to a dinner that the Benda's won where a chef from a local restaurant is going to come to the house to prepare dinner for us.  I'm so pleased that Linda included us in her small group that was invited.

Yesterday, I made a crockpot meal. We had the carpet cleaner here in the morning and then went looking for new living room furniture before Mass.  When we got home it smelled delicious in this house.

Monday is another busy day.  Frank will pick up the Angel Face.  I have a doc appointment at 9 am.  Just my yearly physical.  If you haven't made your appointment yet let this serve as your reminder. Then we have a conference with our financial advisor.  Later in the afternoon, they are coming out to measure for a new fireplace we are getting when we redo the backroom. That project begins immediately after Easter

Tuesday we will be taking carryout to Aunt Irene.  Wednesday is Food Pantry.  Thursday my Amesy Baby has taken the day off work.  Mani's, Pedi's and lunch date on the schedule followed by choir practice in the evening.  Friday the Little Miss has her dance recital so we will all go out for dinner afterwards.

On the blogging front, we are celebrating Easter recipes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Looking forward to seeing you all each day.

Weekly Menu

Pot Roast 
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans

Dinner with the Bendas

Melody Monday
Grampy's making Spaghetti

Carryout at Aunt Irene's

Lamb Pie

Pasta with Spare Ribs (moved from last week)

Out for Dinner

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Ireland and France Collide #SoupSaturdaySwappers #Winophiles

Top o' the Mornin' and Happy St. Patrick's Day.  To honor this holiday I am sharing a recipe for Corned Beef Colcannon Soup that I served alongside a Rhone wine from France.  Hence the name of my post today.

Besides St. Patrick's Day we are also celebrating Soup Saturday Swappers and The French Winophiles events.  Hence the theme of my post today.

Let's start with Soup Saturday.  Soup Saturday is a fun group that I started where we share soup/stew recipes on the 3rd Saturday of each month based on a them chosen by one of our members.  This months theme was chosen by Sally of Bewitching Kitchen.  Sally invited us to Say Goodbye to Winter and share a soup that Soothes the Soul and Chases Away those Winter Blues.

I don't know about you but I am over this cold weather and waaaaaay ready for Spring.  Should you be interested in joining Soup Saturday Swappers just leave a comment below along with your blog name and I will be happy to invite you.

St. Patrick's Day is the first Spring Holiday in my mind so I thought making an Irish Soup was the perfect way to celebrate with Sally this month.

The third Saturday of the month is also when I join my friends from The French Winophiles in an exploration of French Wines.  This month we were invited to learn about Rhone wines by Liz of What's in that Bottle.  You can read her invitation post and take a look at the beautiful winery, Hermitage Chapoutier, who provided each blogger with three wonderful bottles of wine for this event.

Our wine groups are often able to provide samples of the wines from the appellations and/or wineries that we are showcasing.  All opinions on said samples are purely those of the individual blogger and nothing other than a "thank you" is expected of us.  I have received no monetary compensation for this post.

I am showcasing the Luberon "La Ciboise" Blanc today with my soup.  It is named after the owner, Michael Chapoutier's grandfather's home.  It is organically farmed.  It is grassy, citrusy and acidic.  I thought that it was better with food than without, however that didn't stop me from enjoying the remainder of the bottle after dinner.

While this is not a pairing I would have made had these three events not coincided, it was a fun experimentation.  The pairing was helped immensely by the northwoods mixture of mushrooms in the soup.  The earthiness of the mushrooms balanced very nicely with this white wine.  I was pleasantly surprised.

I also served the Les Meysonnieres with a Maple Glazed Corned Beef Dinner.  The Lex Meysonnieres is a dry, fruity wine featuring Syrah grapes.  I enjoyed it more on it's own than with this dinner.  I guess I think corned beef is better suited for beer than wine.

The recipe for this soup was based on one found in Cuisine at Home.  I modified it quite a bit and it turned out hearty, rich and delicious.  I urge you to garnish it with the horseradish sauce.  It added great flavor to this soup.  

You will find links to more Say Goodbye to Winter soups and thoughts about the Rhone wines and the pairings that were enjoyed in links following this recipe.  Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Corned Beef Colcannon Soup
adapted from Cuisine at Home

1 oz. dried North Wood Mushroom Blend
3 1/2 c. water
1/2 Vidalia onion, diced
2 carrots, scraped and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 T. butter
1 T. tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. wine (I used the Luberon)
6 c. beef stock
2-3 c. cooked corned beef, diced
1/2 c. instant barley
4 med. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size dice
1 bay leaf
1 t. dried thyme
1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
1 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. horseradish

Bring the water to a boil.  Place the mushrooms in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them.  Let sit for at least an hour and up to 4 hrs.  Remove the mushrooms from the water and set aside.  Pour the water through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth and reserve the liquid.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over med high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and tomato paste.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir until fragrant.  Deglaze the pan with wine, cooking until reduced and thickened.

Add the beef stock, reserved mushroom liquid, mushrooms, corned beef, barley, potatoes, bay leaf and thyme.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender.  Add the kale and vinegar, cook until wilted.

In a small bowl combine the sour cream and horseradish.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of the horseradish cream.  Print Recipe

Say Goodbye to Winter Soups

More Pairings with the Wines of Rhone Valley

Friday, March 16, 2018

Pasta with Crab #FishFridayFoodies

I want to start off this post by saying "you're welcome".  Does anyone else sing the Moana song in their head every time they say you're welcome or is it just me?

I'm saying you're welcome because you, my friends, are going to be so grateful for this easy, peasy delicious recipe to get you through these last couple weeks of Lent.

Today is Fish Friday Foodies and our host, Paula of The Saucy Southerner, invited us to "Get Crabby".

I had a ton of ideas for this theme.  I LOVE crab and I had found some beautiful lump crab meat at my market that was all cooked, removed from the shell and picked over.  That right there saves a lot of time. 

My first instinct was crab cakes.  I love them and I have never made them myself.  Then, as with all the best laid plans, life got busy.  I was running late one evening and had not prepared the meal I had on my menu plan.  Nights like that are inevitably pasta nights because it is so quick and easy.  I pulled out the pasta and looked to see what I had in the refrigerator.  There, staring me in the face, was that lovely lump crab.  Perfect.  I would use it for my impromptu pasta dish and then buy some more for the crab cakes.

Yep, life got very busy.  No more crab was bought.  No crab cakes were made.  Thank Goodness I snapped some photos of this pasta so I had something to share with you today.

I sautéed up some onions, garlic in a generous amount of olive oil adding some crushed red pepper and salt while the pasta boiled.  

The pasta went right from the cooking water into the saute pan and the crab got gently folded in.  Hmmmm.....it looks rather bland.  Back to the refrigerator.

Thankfully, I usually have some sort of leafy green in my refrigerator.  In this case there was a couple of handfuls of baby spinach left.  That got added right to the pasta with a little bit of the cooking water to help it wilt.

That's it!! Five ingredients.  Twenty minutes.  Dinner is served and enjoyed by all.  This would make a great pasta course during a dinner party and I know I will be making it again.   But first, I'm going to make those crab cakes I've been craving. I hope one of our group shares a great recipe that I can try.  You will find links to all the Crabby Creations below.

This recipe served two adults with leftovers available for lunch the following day.

Pasta with Crab

3 T. olive oil
1/2 small sweet onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and crushed red pepper to taste
1/2 lb pasta, cooked per package directions
8 oz. prepared lump crab meat, found in the refrigerated section of the seafood counter
2 or 3 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1/4 c. pasta cooking water

Saute the onion and garlic in a large skillet over med high heat.  Season with salt and crushed red pepper.  Add the pasta to the vegetables and combine over low heat.  Fold in the crab and spinach leaves, adding pasta cooking water as needed, until heated through and the spinach is wilted.  Print Recipe

More Crabby Creations

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Lemon Cherry Babka #BundtBakers

When I saw this recipe for a Polish Lemon Babka, posted by my friend Carlee of Cooking with Carlee, I knew that I had found my cake for Bundt Bakers this month.


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.
Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

This month's party is being hosted by Sneha of Sneha's Recipes.  Sneha chose the theme Cherries and invited us to "bake a bundt filled, flavored or topped with fresh or dried cherries or even cherry jam".

Each year around Easter and Christmas my husband starts reminiscing about "Bacci Bread".  See Babka means Grandmother in Polish.  My husbands family called his Grandmother Bacci, hence Bacci Bread = Babka.

Carlee described this dish by saying (I'm ad libbing here) "if bread and cake had a baby, it would be this creation".  That made me laugh and it also very true.  This is more of a cake made with yeast than it is a bread.

I adapted this recipe by exchanging dried cherries for the raisins so that it would fit the theme for this event.  I also soaked my cherries in rum rather than water.....that is a throwback to my Grandma who always used rum to soak her fruit for cakes and breads.

Other than that I followed the recipe pretty closely and it turned out perfectly.  Frank took a bite and said "oh yeah, this one's a keeper".  That made me very happy.  Thank you Carlee for the recipe and thank you Sneha for choosing this wonderful theme.

Lemon Cherry Babka
adapted from Cooking with Carlee

1/2 c. warm milk (105-110*)
3 eggs, room temperature
1 pkg. instant yeast
pinch of salt
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 c. flour
1/2 c. dried cherries, soaked in rum overnight

1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1 t. lemon extract

1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. milk
1/2 t. lemon extract

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the milk, eggs, yeast and flour.  Blend in the sugar and butter.  Increase the speed to high and beat for 2 minutes.  Drain the cherries and fold them into the batter.

Cover and let sit for an hour before turning into a bundt pan that has been treated with baking spray.  Cover and let sit for another half an hour before baking in a preheated 350* oven for half an hour.

While cake is baking make a simple syrup by combining the sugar, water and lemon extract in a small pan over med high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove cake from oven and place bundt pan onto a wire rack.  Poke holes all over the cake with a wooden skewer.  Pour the syrup over the cake and let sit for 20 minutes for the syrup to be absorbed and the cake to cool.  Turn the cake onto a serving platter and let cool completely.

Stir together the powdered sugar, milk and lemon extract.  Drizzle over the cooled cake.  Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired.  Print Recipe

More Cherry Bundts

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Smoked Salmon and Herb Quiche #PiDay #FoodnFlix

Today is Pi(e) Day, 3.14.  There is a 159 following that 14 but that makes no never mind here.  3.14 is a day to make and share Pi(e)s.  This event was created for our Festive Foodies group by Colleen of The Redhead Baker.

I had originally planned on sharing a Moroccan Shrimp Pie.  The recipe sounded delicious.  I put it together last Friday and we sat down to dinner.  We took a bite....uhoh...perhaps it was just the first bite....took a second bite....it was worst than the first.  The culprit....lemon....so much lemon that it was actually bitter.  I was so disappointed, not only because I had anticipated a delicious dinner but because I was planning on that recipe for this event.

I began thinking of other ideas....I really wanted to stick with a savory pie.  I ran through all the possibilities.... I had already shared chicken pot pie, beef pot pie, Irish stew pie, tomato pie, lobster pot pie, and a pork and apple pie.  Not too mention the numerous quiches......Hey, how about a quiche?

Quiche was a perfect idea because not only would it fit the bill for this event but it was the perfect recipe to share for our Food n Flix selection this month, Runaway Bride.

See the source image

Runaway Bride is a fun little romance comedy starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.  It was the movie chosen by Ali over at Fix Me a Little Lunch.  You still have time to join in the fun.  Check out Ali's announcement post to learn how.

This film is about a woman (Roberts) who has left 3 men standing at the altar as she bolts from the ceremony.  She is currently engaged to the 4th man who is convinced that he is the one.  

A cynical, down on his luck reporter (Gere) decides that she is going to follow past practice and bolt on this poor guy as well.  He arrives in town to write a story.  It is a fun, predictable film that we enjoyed.  Of course, this is coming from someone who also loved Pretty Woman and who considers When Harry Met Sally one of my favorite films.

One of the results of the relationship that occurs between Roberts and Gere is that she is left doing some soul searching after he points out to her that "she doesn't even know what kind of eggs she likes".  Gere asked each of the intendeds what Roberts favorite breakfast was and they all responded with a different type of egg adding "just like me".

One scene shows Roberts cooking up every egg dish known to man, and trying them all to see which it is that she DOES prefer.  Watch the film to find out what she discovers about eggs and about herself.

What then is more perfect to combine these two events than an egg pie aka quiche?  Absolutely nothing.

My blues over the failed dinner were dispelled and I began rummaging in my pantry and refrigerator to see what kind of quiche I should make. Spring Vegetable, Lorraine, Ham and BroccoliHam and Asparagus, and  Cauliflower and Leek were already written about so I needed something new. 

I found some smoked salmon in the freezer and some Boursin and Swiss Cheese in the refrigerator.  I always have a ton of eggs, thanks to my ladies who live in my back yard.  I also found some fresh dill that I thought would be perfect with the salmon.

While the crust was pre baking, I whisked together the eggs, Boursin cheese, cream and dill.  When the crust was nice and browned.  I layered the smoked salmon along the bottom of the crust.  Sprinkled the Swiss cheese over the salmon and then poured the herbed custard over all.  Popped it in the oven for about an hour and it turned out beautifully.

The smooth creamy goodness of the herbed cheese custard was perfect with the smoky richness of the salmon.  The best thing, in my opinion, about quiche is that it can be served as an elegant breakfast, a lovely lunch or a light dinner.  Serve it up with a seasonal fruit salad or some leafy greens and it is a complete meal.

When we finished watching Runaway Bride, I knew right away that I was going to make some sort of egg dish.  I grabbed this cookbook, that I had received as a gift from my sil, Mary, and was thumbing through it.  I had chosen another egg recipe but then changed it up when my first pie was a fail.  Mary bought me this book because I raise laying hens and am constantly looking for new ways to use up the abundance of eggs they provide.  I am going to share this post over at Foodies Read.  It has some great ideas and I've made a couple of recipes including this frittata and these eggs benedict that turned out wonderfully.

Make sure you stop by and see what other great pies are being shared today.  You will find links right underneath this easy peasy recipe.

Smoked Salmon and Herb Quiche

1 pie crust, prebaked
1 (8oz) pkg. smoked salmon
1 c. shredded Swiss Cheese
1 (5 oz) pkg. Boursin Cheese
1 T. chopped fresh dill weed
1 c. half and half
4 eggs
pepper to taste

Layer the smoked salmon on the bottom of the pie crust.  Sprinkle with Swiss Cheese.  In a large bowl, whisk together the Boursin Cheese, dill, cream, pepper and eggs.  It is okay if some of the Boursin remains lumpy.  Pour over the salmon and cheese.  Place the pie pan onto a baking sheet and place in a preheated 350* oven for 50-60 minutes, until puffed, browned and a knife inserted in the center removes cleanly.  Print Recipe

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More Perfect Pi(e)s