Tag Archives: things to do with a microplane

france’s third favorite dish

Pardon my absence, I’ve been graduating. And resting. And eating out. Now that I’ve completed my graduate courses in Nutrition, I feel hyper-aware of my responsibilities to promote good health—especially in my own kitchen. That’s why we’re talking whole grains today in their most loveable form. If you’re not aboard the couscous train, allow me to introduce this fluffy five-minute grain as your new weeknight wonder. Yes, a 2011 study published in Vie Pratique Gourmand showed couscous to be the third favorite dish of French people. And first place in East France! Oui.

Polish-raised folk—such as myself—can rarely resist a potato recipe. And when I saw this recipe as Vegetarian Time’s “top pick” for the April issue, I tested it in my own kitchen. If you don’t have these spices on hand, you will find plenty of excuses to use them in my favorite Eastern recipes. For a little bit of chopping, and 20 quick minutes, this simple dish offers a hearty reward.

Try this out on the deck with fresh pita and minty iced tea. Happy end-of-spring.

Quick Moroccan Tagine

Vegetarian Times April 2010, serves 6
Note: you can serve this spice-laced North African stew over bulgur, couscous, or rice.

Spice Blend

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 ½ tsp. sweet or smoked paprika

1 tsp. ground ginger (I didn’t have this, it was fine!)

½ tsp. ground turmeric

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Tagine

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 large leek, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds (watch prep tips here)

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch triangles (how to cut bell pepper)

4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and halved (redskin or yukon gold)

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15-oz. can, rinsed and drained)

2 cloves garlic, minced on a microplane or grater (2 tsp.)

8 dried apricots, quartered

½ cup dry-cured black olives, optional

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 cup whole-wheat couscous

To make the spice blend, combine all ingredients in small bowl.

To make Tagine: Heat oil in pot over medium-high heat. Add leek and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes.

Add potatoes, chickpeas, garlic, and Spice Blend; cook 30 seconds.

Stir in apricots, olives (if using), and 2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender (my red potatoes were tender in 10 minutes).

While the vegetables are simmering, make the couscous: heat 1 cup water (or chicken broth) until boiling.

Once boiling, stir in 1 cup dry couscous. Cover and remove from heat. Let the couscous steam for five minutes. Regardless of the serving size, couscous always takes five minutes (glory be!). After the couscous steams, fluff gently with a fork.

Spoon the couscous into a bowl and top with the vegetables and sauce. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

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is it a brie day or bulgar day?

When I’m not shoveling in pastry-wrapped brie, I try to plan healthy meals for Andrew and I. With our Charleston trip just a week away (and belly-aching memories of monstrous pancakes from last year’s visit), we’re trying to eat light before a week of Southern cuisine. After 350 days, I think I am ready to look at biscuits again.

I love the search engine on Epicurious.com, which provided an abundance of quick, easy and healthy recipes. I chose an herb-packed grain salad to accompany a different take on green beans. With almonds and lemons on hand, edamame in the freezer, and a healthy mint plant on my windowsill, the meal was budget-friendly with ample leftovers.

I grabbed bulgur, a whole grain, in the bulk bin for less than $2 and was pleasantly surprised to find it tastes fluffier than couscous and not at all bland like whole wheat pastas. It tastes buttery.

The following recipes—marrying here for a substantial meal—are adapted from the September 2009 issue of Gourmet magazine. Oh, and you need to be open to cilantro.

Bulgur with Herbs

1 cup bulgur wheat

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 cup chopped scallions (from 1 bunch)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup chopped mint

1 tablespoon store-bought roasted-almond oil or olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus 1/2 tsp. lemon zest

In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the cup of bulgur, and cover, allowing the bulgur to simmer on low heat. Stir occasionally and cook about 20 minutes until the bulgur has expanded. Fluff gently with a fork. Drain any excess water.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until hot, then cook almonds, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute.

Return drained bulgur to serving bowl and stir in scallions, herbs, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and almonds (with oil).

Season with salt and more lemon juice if desired. Serve at room temperature. Oh how crunchy and loaded with lemony flavor!

Bevy of Beans and Basil

3/4 frozen edamame, thawed (soybeans; shelled saves time)

3/4 pound young fresh Romano beans (Italian flat beans), stemmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-to 2-inch pieces (I omitted)

1/2 pound green or wax beans, trimmed and halved crosswise

1/4 cup packed basil leaves

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons water

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil; add thawed edamame for about two minutes, remove with slotted spoon and transfer to serving bowl. Cook Romano beans (if using) in same pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a bowl.

Cook green beans in same pot until just tender, 6 to 7 minutes and add to other beans.

Cut basil into very thin shreds. Cook garlic in oil with a rounded 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 1 minute.

Add beans, water, zest and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Stir in basil and 2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and remove from heat. Season with salt and additional lemon juice if desired.

Serve beans warm or at room temperature.

It’s a record-hot spring already in Virginia, this is perfect picnic food!

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five out of five

My college dining hall had very few vegetarian entrées, and I ate vegetable lasagna at least four days a week in my undergraduate years. It was one of those carrot-zucchini lasagnas with white sauce and cheese, and it was so comforting. The Mongolian grill installed during my senior year increased the variety in my dining hall diet, but I couldn’t resist the creamy lasagna every once in a while still.

I have always been intimidated by lasagna—making it, that is. The layers and the prep and the waiting all that time for it to bake just seemed like too much work—this from the gal willing to make homemade pasta. But I’m conquering all kinds of new dishes these days. You can, too.

Here’s what makes my adaptation of this lasagna simple in preparation: use packaged artichoke hearts, no-boil lasagna noodles, and pre-trimmed leeks. Trader Joes even has pre-chopped leeks in their freezer section! (Click here to watch a demonstration on cleaning and slicing leeks).

I came across this 5-star recipe and said to myself, This sounds amazing. and it’s screaming to be simplified. and I wonder if it would work with mushrooms?

The Ultimate Vegetable Lasagna

simplified a smidge from williams-sonoma.com

serves 8-10

1 box no-boil lasagna noodles

2 cups ricotta cheese

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 Tbs. olive oil

5 leeks including 1 inch of  green, rinsed well and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 cup artichoke hearts (frozen or jarred), chopped

about 10 baby bella mushrooms, brushed clean, stems removed, and sliced

5 garlic cloves, minced (on a microplane)

3 cups milk

4 Tbs. unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

a pinch of nutmeg

1/2 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese

Make the vegetable filling

In a fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks and sauté until very soft and lightly golden, about 15 minutes.

While the leeks are cooking, heat 1 tbsp. butter in a medium pot (large enough to use for white sauce) over medium-high heat. Sear the mushrooms by adding them in batches, leaving plenty of room between the slices. Set aside.

Once the leeks are tender, drain the artichokes and add to the fry pan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium heat until the artichokes are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the mushrooms, stir, and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Set aside.

Make the cheese filling

In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper; set aside.

Make the white sauce

In the buttered saucepan (from the mushrooms), melt the remaining 3 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.

Whisk the flour into the butter and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. It should look like this.

Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the hot milk. Set over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until thick and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove the sauce from the heat.

Assemble and Bake

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 375°F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

Cover the bottom of the prepared dish with a layer of the noodles. No-boil lasagna noodles just go into the pan straight from the box; it’s fabulous. Spoon one-third of the ricotta mixture over the noodles—this doesn’t need to be neat.

Top with one-third of the leek-artichoke mixture and then with one-third of the sauce. Repeat the layering twice.

Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top. Bake until golden and bubbling, 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes (painful, I know!), then cut into squares and dig in.

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pears well with meals

I promise you would not need a fancy-schmancy pot to make the following, but it adds a little fun if you do. Allow me to introduce my birthday and Christmas surprises, Mademoiselle Plum and Monsieur Pesto:

 

I grew up on applesauce, and that’s not a criticism. Sometimes on our drives home from Grammy and Pop-pop’s house, we stopped at Catoctin Orchards for jars of cider, applesauce, and other fresh goodies. I’ve had a thing for homemade applesauce ever since.

Tried the peel, slice, core, simmer with juice technique—it’s a long wait. If you have a casserole dish with a tight lid, this apple-pear sauce will make itself. With a friend and two peelers, this is especially fun.

A quiet New Year’s Eve with close friends just screamed for roasted pear sauce, and here it is, dear readers, a side dish for the years to come. Because this is ideal for breakfast, dessert, and an accompaniment to of each course, double the recipe below, as we did.

Roasted Apple and Pear Sauce

from Ina Garten, makes 2 quarts

zest and juice of 2 large navel oranges

zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 lbs. sweet red apples (8 apples, any kind will really do)

3 lbs. ripe Bosc pears (7 pears; do use Bosc)

1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

peel leisurely at the kitchen table with a friend, you would never believe this is work

Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a nonreactive Dutch oven (or large covered casserole). Peel, quarter, and core the apples and pears and toss them in the juice. Lindsey’s note: I core the apples very quickly by peeling, quartering through the stem, and—with the quarter flat on the board—making a diagonal slice just beyond the seeds and stem. This preps the fruit in one swift step.

Add the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon and cover the pot.

Bake for about an hour and a half, until the apples and pears are tender. Mix with a whisk until smooth, but still a little chunky. Serve warm or at room temperature. Or eat right from the fridge.

this pear sauce isn't so bad with beef brisket, grilled haricots vert, and potato-brie gratin

 

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best of 2011

Drumroll please… the most delicious, memorable, must-make dish from our kitchen in 2011…

Asparagus Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

 

In case you didn’t catch it the first time around, here is the post again. Here’s to a healthy and delicious 2012!

 

There are things only some of us can do. Things that require unique talent and skills few possess (unless you’re my friend Mark, who actually has one of these rings at home).

Homemade ravioli is not among these feats.

A Pear to Remember is the place, after all, for deliciously do-able cooking. Homemade ravioli is impressive, elegant, divine in every way, but not impossible. Not even hard. Not even hours of work.

Pasta from scratch?? Not today. Won ton wrappers are these magical pre-cut pasta sheets Giant stores carry adjacent to the bagged salads. They are ever more common at grocery retailers, and Asian specialty stores would surely carry them, too. You can also make this without a food processor so it’s not such a fussy equipment endeavor. There are several steps, but few take more than a minute and a half. With a friend, these could easily be ready to go in 40 minutes. (Trader Joes, where speciality cheeses are not overpriced, also makes this an affordable meal).

This marks our most special meal to date. And, in my book, the most delicious by far. Here’s to memory-making on Monday nights!

Asparagus Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

Fine Cooking (April/May 2011), serves 4

1 lb. thick asparagus, trimmed, spears cut into 1-inch pieces, tips reserved

6 tablespoon marscarpone

1/3 cup whole milk ricotta

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for serving

1 tsp. anchovy paste (optional)

cut the tips at an angle for topping at the end

1/2 tsp. minced garlic (must be fresh, the jarred stuff is too harsh)

Pinch cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

36 wonton wrappers

4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped

finely grated lemon zest to taste

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat (using this same water for the pasta later maintains nutrients!). Have ready a medium bowl of ice water (if you have a colander to rest inside, this is one less draining step). Boil the asparagus tips until tender but still bright green, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon (thanks, Kathy!), transfer to the ice water. When cool, transfer with the slotted spoon to a small bowl and set aside. Cook and cool the asparagus spears in the same manner; dry them on paper towels.

In a food processor (or by hand), chop 1-1/2 cups of the spears very finely and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining spears to the tips.

Add the marscarpone, ricotta, Parmigiano, anchovy paste, garlic, and cayenne to the chopped asparagus; mix well. Season to taste with coarse salt and fresh pepper.

Let’s stop for a sec to talk minced garlic.

I knew nothing about fresh garlic growing up; if this is your first encounter with it: welcome!

To mince garlic well, whack a single clove with the side of a wide knife—makes peeling a snap. To chop the garlic very, very fine, slice the clove a few times, sprinkle with a big pinch of coarse salt, and chop away. Just keep running over the clove with your knife; the salt will help mash it into a paste to blend beautifully into your dish.

You can also rub your garlic clove on a microplane for the same, quicker, effect! (Use the same zester for the lemon at the end; no need to clean between).

Arrange 18 wonton wrappers on a work surface (a cookie sheet is perfect for both prepping and post-boiling) . Put 1 level Tbs. of the asparagus filling in the center of each wrapper (don’t get too caught up in measuring).

Using a pastry brush, moisten the edges of each with water. Top each with another wrapper and press the edges firmly to seal, expelling any air bubbles as you seal. If you don’t plan to cook the ravioli immediately, cover them with a damp cloth.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil over high heat (ideally, the same pot with the blanched asparagus water).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat and add the almonds, shaking the pan. Cook until the butter turns light brown, about 6 minutes, and then immediately transfer to a small bowl.

Add the ravioli, about 5 at a time, to the boiling water (I lowered the boil so the pockets would not explode; it worked). When they rise to the surface, after about 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to warm plates or pasta bowls. Spoon the brown butter mixture over the ravioli. Top with the reserved asparagus pieces, a grinding of pepper, a sprinkle of Parmigiano, and a little lemon zest, and serve.

Thanks to the Bitten Word for inspiring me to try (and conquer) this recipe!

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getting fat and fancy

Back in 2007, I named my new car Ella after my favorite singer. She’s a musical car, and even honks in C major. I love Ella Fitzgerald’s recording of What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? to which you might consider listening tomorrow. Here is a sweet performance with Nat King Cole with an equally important message about holiday foods:

In my twenty years of playing piano, I have never had such luck as Mr. Cole in taking my finger off the keys with such frequency—and keep the music playing…

The following recipe is unusually rich compared to the kinds of meals I advocate and typically cook. But it is remarkably sophisicated, like Miss Ella’s voice, and sometimes heavy cream it’s all right with me.

I saw Jacques Pepin makes this potato gratin on PBS several years ago, and it looked too easy, too French to not replicate in my own kitchen. My Polish-raised inner-child cannot pass up creamy potatoes buried in golden cheese.

It’s important the potatoes are even and thinly sliced. A cheap $6 mandolin makes the preparation for this gratin a breeze.

A gratin is the brown crust on foods prepared au gratin. The brown is often from cheese, butter, or in the best case: both. Gratin originates from the French word grater, which is why you’ll find yourself grating gorgeous white cheese for gratin dishes. Now I only made it to French 3 in high school, but I’m pretty sure you impress your guests by pronouncing this gra-tan daf-nee-wahr with your nose raised ever so slightly.

Gratin Dauphinois

from the brilliant Jacques Pepin

serves 8, 30 minutes prep  

2  1/2 lbs boiling potatoes, such as Yukon Gold

3  1/2 cups half-and-half

2 large garlic cloves, minced (remember, you can do this on your microplane)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyère

Special equipment: a mandoline or other adjustable-blade slicer

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Generously butter a 2 1/2- to 3-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish.

Peel potatoes. Cut crosswise into 1/16-inch-thick slices with slicer and transfer to a 4-quart heavy saucepan. Add half-and-half, garlic, salt, and pepper and bring just to a boil over moderate heat.

Pour potato mixture into buttered dish, distributing potatoes evenly. Sprinkle nutmeg and cheese evenly over top. Bake until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Jacques’ note: The gratin can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool completely, then refrigerate, covered. Bring to room temperature before reheating, covered, in a 350°F oven.

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? I’m making a potato and leek gratin with brie—naughty as can be—and sharing it with great friends.

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I’m not in right now, but if you leave a message…

I’m a guest writer! You can find my latest recipes and post over on Anilia’s health and home blog: A Little Inspiration. Today, I’m writing about pistachio pesto, a 5-minute plum salad, and sharing the yellow roma tomatoes I submitted to the 2011 Virginia Grown farmer’s market photo contest! Click over to read, and see you back here soon 🙂

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we can do this

There are things only some of us can do. Things that require unique talent and skills few possess (unless you’re my friend Mark, who has one of these rings at home).

Homemade ravioli is not among these feats.

A Pear to Remember is the place, after all, for deliciously do-able cooking. Homemade ravioli is impressive, elegant, divine in every way, but not impossible. Not even hard. Not even hours of work.

Pasta from scratch?? Not today. Won ton wrappers are these magical pre-cut pasta sheets Giant stores carry adjacent to the bagged salads. They are ever more common at grocery retailers, and Asian specialty stores would surely carry them, too. You can also make this without a food processor so it’s not such a fussy equipment endeavor. There are several steps, but few take more than a minute and a half. With a friend, these could easily be ready to go in 40 minutes. (Trader Joes, where speciality cheeses are not overpriced, also makes this an affordable meal).

This marks our most special meal to date. And, in my book, the most delicious by far. Here’s to memory-making on Monday nights!

Asparagus Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

Fine Cooking (April/May 2011), serves 4

1 lb. thick asparagus, trimmed, spears cut into 1-inch pieces, tips reserved

6 tablespoon marscarpone

1/3 cup whole milk ricotta

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for serving

1 tsp. anchovy paste (optional)

cut the tips at an angle for topping at the end

1/2 tsp. minced garlic (must be fresh, the jarred stuff is too harsh)

Pinch cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

36 wonton wrappers

4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped

finely grated lemon zest to taste

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat (using this same water for the pasta later maintains nutrients!). Have ready a medium bowl of ice water (if you have a colander to rest inside, this is one less draining step). Boil the asparagus tips until tender but still bright green, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon (thanks, Kathy!), transfer to the ice water. When cool, transfer with the slotted spoon to a small bowl and set aside. Cook and cool the asparagus spears in the same manner; dry them on paper towels.

In a food processor (or by hand), chop 1-1/2 cups of the spears very finely and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining spears to the tips.

Add the marscarpone, ricotta, Parmigiano, anchovy paste, garlic, and cayenne to the chopped asparagus; mix well. Season to taste with coarse salt and fresh pepper.

Let’s stop for a sec to talk minced garlic.

I knew nothing about fresh garlic growing up; if this is your first encounter with it: welcome!

To mince garlic well, whack a single clove with the side of a wide knife—makes peeling a snap. To chop the garlic very, very fine, slice the clove a few times, sprinkle with a big pinch of coarse salt, and chop away. Just keep running over the clove with your knife; the salt will help mash it into a paste to blend beautifully into your dish.

You can also rub your garlic clove on a microplane for the same, quicker, effect! (Use the same zester for the lemon at the end; no need to clean between).

Arrange 18 wonton wrappers on a work surface (a cookie sheet is perfect for both prepping and post-boiling) . Put 1 level Tbs. of the asparagus filling in the center of each wrapper (don’t get too caught up in measuring).

Using a pastry brush, moisten the edges of each with water. Top each with another wrapper and press the edges firmly to seal, expelling any air bubbles as you seal. If you don’t plan to cook the ravioli immediately, cover them with a damp cloth.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil over high heat (ideally, the same pot with the blanched asparagus water).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat and add the almonds, shaking the pan. Cook until the butter turns light brown, about 6 minutes, and then immediately transfer to a small bowl.

Add the ravioli, about 5 at a time, to the boiling water (I lowered the boil so the pockets would not explode; it worked). When they rise to the surface, after about 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to warm plates or pasta bowls. Spoon the brown butter mixture over the ravioli. Top with the reserved asparagus pieces, a grinding of pepper, a sprinkle of Parmigiano, and a little lemon zest, and serve.

Thanks to the Bitten Word for inspiring me to try (and conquer) this recipe!

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the american way

I don’t know if there is a more unifying substance in our country’s history than mayonnaise. Pivotal for shrimp salad, ‘tater (that’s potato –> tato –> tater) salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, shrimp salad, macaroni salad. Shame on me to forget cole slaw!

You know how I feel about using mayo as a pasta sauce (even writing this post in rebuke), but sometimes one has to be patriotic. Sometimes cooks must compromise for nine guests not interested in said cook’s love for funky vegetables and fresh garlic.

But before we get to classic macaroni salad to start off your summer, a jaunt down Memorial Day memory lane.

There was the salad of my life: mango and avocado over butter lettuce with queso fresco and pine-nut lime dressing—hold the bacon—at Agave in Lewes. Then, boardwalk pizza with friends (a must), though I chose Gus’ fries soaked in vinegar.

  Did I mention the bountiful servings of pure Awesome at Touch of Italy in Lewes? Yes, we did eat our way through much of the weekend and came across some lovely beach finds like these luscious soaps from Little Egg Harbor Soap company, tucked away on the Rehoboth boardwalk…

and you might imagine my amusement at this greeting (which falls under my life principle of citing one’s sources):

Classic Macaroni Salad

tweaked from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook, serves 8-10

coarse kosher salt

1 lb. elbow mac

1/2 small red onion, minced

1 celery rib, chopped fine

1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (I mixed fresh flat-leaf parsley and chives)

1 lemon, juiced plus ½ tsp. lemon zest

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

½ tbsp Dijon mustard

pinch of cayenne pepper

1  1/2 cups mayo

ground black pepper

Soak the chopped red onion in ice water while boiling the pasta (this reduces the raw bite of onion if you find it too strong).

Boil pasta in well salted water (a few tablespoons of salt) until nearly tender, just al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool, then drain briefly (but not all the way). Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, and cayenne and let sit until flavors are absorbed about 2 minutes. Add mayo and let sit until the salad is no longer watery, about 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Can refrigerate up to 2 days. If making ahead, stir in a little warm water to loosen before serving.

Best enjoyed outdoors at sunset with good company.

If you think your friends will Like this recipe, it’s also on Facebook, just click here! And if you’re up to braving homemade mayo—incredibly worth it—here’s my own attempt.

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fit for family: part two (or getting your frico on)

As I was writing in the last post, it’s simple to make an elegant meal with few, fresh ingredients. When you’re lucky enough to access fresh veggies and cheeses from the farmer’s market, there is something extra special about your meal. Of course, the best part, whether a mother’s day meal or Friday night with friends, is your own presentation. I can’t say hard work and sweat because this is really a basics kind of meal (though you will call me a phony when you see the Strawberry Chips below…)

To accompany my original Springtime Casareccia with Basil & Fresh Ricotta, a basic but thrilling little salad:

Leaf-Lettuce Salad with Parmesan Crisps

from Great Food Fast, serves 6

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)

3/4 lb. red or green leaf lettuce

1 fresh lemon, zested and juiced

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 small garlic clove

1/4 cup fresh herbs (basil, parsley, chives, or a mix)

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

You will need parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat

Bake the Frico

Frico (freek-o) is a delicate parmesan wafer that adds a spectacular dash of Unexpected to a very simple salad. Even if you overbake the batch by a minute or two—points to self—they remain impressively cheesey and elegant.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Divide the cheese into four mounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet, at least four-inches apart. With the back of a spoon, spread each mound into an even 4-inch round.

Frico stores well as room temperature for a few days. I stacked the wafers between parchment paper for safe travel.

Bake until melted and golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. With a thin metal spatula, transfer the crisps to a wire rack and let cool.

Tear the lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces.

Mix the dressing

In a blender (or small food processor), combine 2 tbsp. lemon juice, zest, mustard, garlic, and herbs (I used chives and basil). With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream.

(This can also be whisked together by hand; chop the herbs and garlic fine). Salt and pepper the dressing, taste to balance the acid adding more oil if necessary.

Just before serving, add the dressing to the lettuce along with salt and pepper. Serve the salad with frico atop.

Speaking of the unexpected, strawberry chips are one of those Special Occasion accessories for a simple dessert. My sister-in-law (doing her part, and also saving my can’t-bake-worth-squat butt) provided homemade brownies and vanilla ice cream. This little garnish was so intriguing on paper, I was thrilled to have a holiday to try them out.

Strawberry Chips

scribbled down from my working days at Azafran

1/4 lb. strawberries

3/4 cup sugar

you will also need: pastry brush, parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 225F (or 200 for a convection oven).

Boil the sugar syrup

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Slice the strawberries

Slice the stems off the strawberries so that the berries have a flat end. Slice the strawberries on a mandolin or line up the berries and thinly slice with a sharp knife.

Bake the strawberry slices

help from the hubs!

Lay out the strawberry slices on the baking pans (lined with parchment baking or silicone mats). With a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of sugar syrup over each strawberry. Bake (convection: 30 to 45 minutes; regular oven: 40 to 50 minutes), rotating the pans halfway through baking.

To test if the chips are done, remove one from the oven and allow it to cool on the counter.  If it is crispy once it has cooled, then it’s done. If the slices are browning, take them out of the oven. Remove the slices from the pan while they are hot, and cool on a clean, dry countertop.

These chips are a crunchy note on any creamy dessert, or a remarkable sweet snack. The original recipe calls for 1 lb. of strawberries for 60 strawberry chips; they keep well in a sealed container for 2 weeks. Keep them in a cool place. Or impress your mother-in-law 🙂

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