Kale Ratatouille… Meatless Monday!

Kale Ratatouille – Stirring the Pot

Well it’s the beginning of a whole new week… the best time to go meatless, once a week. It may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

For most individuals and families the week begins on Monday- when we we move from the freedom of the weekend back to the structure of work or school. We set our intentions for the next six days.

There are plenty of benefits to going meatless, even for one day a week.  Further, if you do eat meat on other days, try grass-fed, hormone-free, locally-raised options whenever possible.

Go to Meatless Monday for more information on the benefits of going meatless…one day a week… cut out the meat.

Kale Ratatouille

Shredded kale is added to the mix of this classic French dish which highlights the beauty of zucchini, tomatoes and fresh herbs. Serve this Kale Ratatouille over Black Rice with Shaved Scallions. This recipe comes to us from Stefanie Sacks of Stirring the Pot radio.

Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • or
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • or
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 small zucchini, quartered
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 cups shredded kale
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and sauté for 4-6 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Add the rosemary, thyme, tomatoes, zucchini, pepper, tomatoes, kale and salt to the pan. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. If using fresh herbs, take out the sprigs when the dish has simmered together and enjoy!

Crab and Herbs Quiche: Delicious and Elegant

Crab Quiche

Crab and Herbs Quiche

The crab quiche makes a tasty lunch or brunch dish with a salad or cup of soup. Here is that delectable open-faced pastry crust , this time, filled with a savory custard of crab, cheese and a variety of herbs.  Believe me when I say that it will be gone in one sitting.

Fresh is best when it comes to the star in any dish, but you can make this dish just as delicious with canned or packaged crab as well, so don’t let that hold you back. Of course, if you wish to invest in fresh crab, by all means use it in this seafood quiche recipe, it will only taste all the better.

I love it. I can still remember the first crab quiche I prepared… it was the star of the show and I almost always serve it when I have company for lunch because it makes such a pretty presentation, but it’s not hard to make. It gets rave reviews from family and friends—almost everyone who tastes it asks for the recipe. 

Time: 1-3 hours

Serves: 8

Ingredients

For pastry*

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

* Feel free to use a store bought pie crust… it will cut down on time.

For filling

  • 1 (1-lb) king crab leg, thawed if frozen, or 1/2 lb lump crabmeat, picked over
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning such as Paul Prudhomme’s or Tony Chachere
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 oz coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 2 oz coarsely grated Swiss cheese (1/2 cup)
  • Special equipment: a pastry or bench scraper; a 9-inch glass or ceramic deep-dish pie plate; pie weights or raw rice

Preparation

Make pastry:

  • Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps.
  • Drizzle evenly with 3 tablespoons ice water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in processor) until incorporated.Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until just incorporated, then test again. (Do not overwork mixture, or pastry will be tough.)
  • Turn out mixture onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat.
  • Gather dough together with scraper and press into a ball, then flatten into a 4-inch disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
  • Roll out dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin and fit into pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under pastry and press against rim of pie plate to reinforce edge.
  • Decoratively crimp edge and lightly prick bottom and side of shell with a fork. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until pastry is pale golden along rim and set underneath foil, about 20 minutes.
  • Carefully remove foil and weights and bake shell until bottom and side are pale golden, about 10 minutes more. Cool completely in pie plate on a rack, about 20 minutes.
Make filling:

  • If using crab leg, hack through shell with a large heavy knife and cut meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Discard shell.
  • Whisk together eggs, cream, herbs, seafood seasoning, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, then stir in cheeses and crabmeat.
  • Pour into prebaked crust and bake until filling puffs and is no longer wobbly in center when quiche is gently shaken, 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Cool in pie plate on rack 15 minutes before serving.

Chilled Papaya & Watermelon Soup With Lemon Coriander Cream

June is National Papaya Month!

The papaya is native to the tropics of the Americas, perhaps from southern Mexico and neighboring Central America.  It was first cultivated in Mexico. Papayas grow on trees in hot climates and have a green skin, orange flesh and black seeds. Picking a ripe papaya can be tricky: It’s ripe when it feels soft (as soft as a ripe avocado or a bit softer) and its skin has attained an amber to orange hue. And as it ripens, its flesh will turn from green to yellow, and don’t worry if it looks slightly bruised.

Christopher Columbus once called the papaya the “fruit of the angels,” and for good reason! This fruit that is slightly larger than a mango is bursting with nutritional goodness. It’s full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Papaya Soup
So this spring and summer when you don’t want to hover over a hot grill or stove, enjoy the taste, texture and nutritional values of a wondrous soup. Try this sweet, hearty  and refreshing summer soup from McCormick & Company. It has Papaya and Watermelon and  seasoned with coriander and coconut water.

Chilled Papaya & Watermelon Soup With Lemon Coriander Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cubed papaya (1-inch cubes)
  • 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon (1-inch cubes)
  • 1-1/2 cups coconut water*
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh jalapeño pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander, divided
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Preparation

  1. Place papaya, watermelon, coconut water, lime juice, jalapeño, salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the coriander in blender container; cover. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Mix crème fraîche, lemon juice, sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon coriander in small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. To serve soup, ladle into serving bowls. Drizzle each serving with a heaping tablespoon of Lemon Coriander Cream. Serve immediately.

Makes 5 servings.

Springtime, Asparagus Time!

It’s Springtime, so it must be time for asparagus! You can’t go wrong with asparagus at this time of year.  Boiled, broiled, baked, steamed or grilled, the choices are endless for this luxury vegetable.  This deliciously sweet and sexy superfood is in season  for just a short time… about 2-3 months. They take a lot of time (3 to 4 years to produce from the day the seed is planted) and space (several square feet per plant) to grow; thus their exalted status as a luxury vegetable.  That’s why we grab them while we can and make all kinds of delicious dishes.

Here, Catherine Newman at Disneyfamily.com breathed some life in day old french bread with the world’s easiest, cheesiest soufflé.  Make it in the spring, when asparagus is fresh and plentiful. You could also try using sauteed mushrooms, steamed broccoli florets, roasted zucchini, or whatever vegetables catch your eye at the market. Likewise, although the tarragon and chives go beautifully with asparagus, use whatever fresh herbs your family likes best. Serve the bread pudding with fruit for brunch or with a crisp salad for dinner.

Savory Asparagus Bread Pudding

Asparagus Bread Pudding

Savory Asparagus Bread Pudding

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes

Ready In: 1 hour
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
1 loaf of French bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch slices
1 bunch of asparagus, washed, bottoms snapped off, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 large eggs
2 1/2 cups whole milk (or a mixture of low-fat milk and cream or half and half)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1/2 pound cheese, grated (try Swiss, cheddar, Monterey jack, or a combination)

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 and grease a large casserole dish. Place the bread on a large baking sheet and toast for 10 or so minutes, until it is dry to the touch, but not browned.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and cook the asparagus pieces for 3 minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and herbs.
  3. Arrange the bread slices in the casserole dish, overlapping as little as possible, then arrange the asparagus over the bread, sprinkle with the cheese, and pour the custard over all, pressing down any bread pieces that aren’t submerged. Allow to sit for half an hour or so, so that the bread can absorb the egg mixture–or else refrigerate it, covered, overnight. Bake it in the middle of the oven for 35-45 minutes, until it is puffed and brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Quick Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Chicken Tikka Masala

One of the most popular Indian dishes in the U.S. and the U.K., chicken tikka masala usually involves several steps including marinating and grilling the chicken before simmering in a curried tomato cream sauce.  Authentic Indian Chicken Tikka Masala  (the word “Tikka” in Hindu means pieces or small bits) is prepared with pieces of chicken, marinated with spices and yogurt and grilled over a charcoal fire to give it a lovely smokey flavor. 

The chicken tikka masala known today is a curry(sauce) dish in which roasted chicken chunks (tikka) are served in a rich orange, creamy, lightly spiced, tomato-based sauce. The origins of chicken tikka masala are disputed.  Some say it was created for the Mughals in the pre-British India era and another legend has it that chicken tikka masala was actually created in the U K in the 1960s.  While I won’t get into that, I will say that it’s one of my favorite dishes, but  the original dish has plenty of ingredients and takes time.

But look, Eating Well has simplified it to a one-skillet dish and lightened it by increasing the vegetables, omitting the butter and using less cream. Serve with brown basmati rice.  Also notice that the garam masala, shown in the list of ingredients below , is a blend of spices used in Indian cooking, usually includes cardamom, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, fennel, cumin and coriander.  This seasoning can be found already blended.  It takes the place of many spices, saves time and is available in the spice section of most supermarkets. Today its easier to prepare, with less calories per serving and is every bit as delicious as the original.

 

Makes: 4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each

Active Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Preparation

  1. Stir together garam masala, salt and turmeric in a small dish. Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the spice mixture and dredge in the flour. (Reserve the remaining spice mix and 1 tablespoon of the remaining flour.)
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the reserved spice mix and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon flour and stir until coated. Add tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a simmer, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring often, until thickened and the onion is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in cream. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

 

Avocado Fritters with Avocado-Cilantro Cream Dipping Sauce

Avocado Fritters with Avocado-Cilantro Cream Dipping Sauce

Avocado Fritters

Avocado Fritters with Avocado-Cilantro Cream Dipping Sauce

Take a look at what Melanie at A Beautiful Bite did with this green-skinned, fleshy, pear-shaped, delicious, fruit known as the avocado.

The  avocado or the alligator pear as it is sometimes called, originated in the state of Puebla, Mexico and although many varieties are grown, the Hass avocado is today the most common, producing fruit year-round and accounting for 80% of cultivated avocados in the world.

It has a smooth and creamy texture, with a rich and distinctly yet subtly flavor. It’s used in both savory and sweet dishes and are very popular in vegetarian cuisine and as a substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content. They are generally served raw, but can be cooked for a short time without becoming bitter. It’s used as the base for the very popular Mexican dip, guacamole, as well as a spread on corn tortillas or toast.  Check out these scrumptious looking  bite-sized fiesta fritters that Melanie fried up into a crispy golden ball… did I say fried up, umm!!!!

Recipe

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 4 mins
Total time: 34 mins
Serves: 10
Ingredients
For the fritters
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1¾ cup cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 oz cheddar cheese, diced
  • 1 cup roasted corn kernels (I just grilled mine)
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced (more or less to taste)
  • 4 Tbsp cilantro, chopped (more or less to taste)
  • 2 avocados, diced
For the dipping sauce
  • 2 avocados, mashed
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Pour 2″ of vegetable oil into a deep fryer or a heavy skillet and heat to 350º.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Add eggs, milk, cheese, corn, onion, peppers and cilantro. Stir to incorporate. Gently fold in avocados.
  3. Scoop batter into heaping teaspoons and gently drop into oil. They are done cooking when golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 200º oven.
  4. Prepare dipping sauce by mixing all ingredients in a bowl. If you want a smooth consistency, give it a whirl for two minutes in a blender or food processor.

Korean Seafood Pancakes

Korean Seafood Pancakes

Oh my, check out these crispy seafood packed pancakes from Chef Grace Parisi of Food and Wine. They get a spicy tang from the kimchi that’s mixed into the batter.  Kimchi is Korea’s national side dish and is made with fermented vegetables and a variety of seasonings.  To add more heat to this pancake dish, a thinly sliced hot chile pepper is add to the dipping sauce.  It takes a total time of 45 min and makes 4 servings.

Korean Seafood Pancakes

Korean Seafood Pancakes

Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons seltzer or sparkling water
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Salt
1/2 cup kimchi—drained, pressed dry and chopped
4 ounces medium shrimp—shelled, deveined and split horizontally
4 ounces baby squid, bodies cut into 1/4-inch rings, tentacles halved
4 large scallions, thinly sliced
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour and the rice flour with the egg, seltzer, toasted sesame oil and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the kimchi, shrimp, squid and scallions to the batter.
  2. In 2 medium nonstick skillets, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil. Spoon 2 mounds of the batter into each skillet and gently spread them into 4- to 5-inch rounds; be sure to evenly distribute the seafood in the pancakes. Cook over moderately high heat until the pancakes are golden and crisp on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook over moderate heat until the pancakes are golden and crisp and the batter is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and rice vinegar. Cut the seafood pancakes into wedges and serve them with the dipping sauce.