Flavor Seeker:: A fun new way to make roasted potatoes

I kept seeing these “Hasselback” potatoes in recipes and the more I saw them the more intrigued I was to make them. Nothing tough or complex, but the technique makes the ordinary baked or roasted potato …. Well, whimsical!

Preheat the oven to 450*. Take your potato and slice one side to make a sturdy bottom. Then cut slices down to about 1/4″ from the bottom and about 1/4″ apart. A gentle oil coating and a sprinkle of salt (I would put pepper too, but Barry isn’t a big fan) and in the oven they went. I baked them for an hour. Then I removed them….mmmmm……they already looked great. Crispy on the outside edges and creamy inside. But I didn’t stop there. Cheese was not only sprinkled, but tucked into the crevasses and back into the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese was melted and golden.

Whoa. So I made soup for dinner for Barry. Specifically I made broccoli cheese soup, so a cheesy baked potato made a nice side.

Who am I kidding…they are AWESOME! And they went right to the top of the keeper list.

Give them a try….you are sure to enjoy!

20131001-194448.jpg

20131001-194456.jpg

Advertisements

Food is love….a totally fun afternoon….

My friend, Susan, is a chef. Our beloved Friday night restaurant was hers. Recently, the Bluestone Grill burned down. We are sad over this tragedy. Susan and Lauren are trying to put their lives back together and set a new course.

The upside is the time they both have to rest and rejuvenate from what was an extraordinarily busy and tiring venture. This free time has allowed me to see her outside the restaurant and last week she came to my house and cooked with me. It was so much fun!

We made kisir and cauliflower pizza … And a mess of the kitchen! LOL So much fun and so delicious!!!

The Bluestone served a dish with kisir (tabbouleh) and hummus with flatbread…..mmmmm….. I loved it. I had no idea how simple it was….

You need:
* one onion
* bulgur
* tomato paste
* s & p
* cumin or paprika ~ your preference – we used paprika
* tomatoes ~ as many as you like, but Susan used 2 or 3 plum tomatoes
* flat leaf parsley

Prepare the bulgur according to the package. Much like quinoa or couscous, it absorbs all the water when finished cooking.

While the bulgur is cooking, dice one nice sized onion...white or yellow, not red….and sauté until soft.  A pinch of salt will help break it down. When the onion is translucent, add s&p, paprika to taste and tomato paste.…we used a tube…probably about 2 tablespoons?

Let that sauté. Dice tomatoes and add parsley to them.

Now, into the bowl of diced tomatoes, add the bulgur and the saute mix until combined. SO GOOD!

Again the restaurant served this cold with hummus and naan (flatbread).

We ate it hot. I could hardly wait. As we ate, we talked about how it was good hot or room temperature.  It would be lovely with an egg over it for breakfast or sliced chicken for dinner.

**********

Susan wanted to make cauliflower pizza crust, which she had never made before. I was crazy nervous to cook with this woman who made food into magic for the mouth!!! My recipe of February 15, 2013  (https://neatnosh.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/success-and-a-simple-endeavor-for-today/) was our guide.

We used 6 cups of riced cauliflower and 6 cups of cheese….but I thought that 6 eggs would be too much and she agreed. We settled on 4 and that was great. She couldn’t help herself, so she added s&p and I think a bit of oregano! LOL All about YOUR taste I always say.

We made one large crust on parchment and a cookie sheet. And we made a smaller one to eat right away on a ceramic pan. Both cooked well….but…….

****** NOTE!!!!! ******

BE SURE TO DRAIN THE CAULIFLOWER WELL. WHEN DRIER THE CRUST WILL BE ‘STURDIER.’

I was so nervous, that was my mistake. Still tasted yummy!

Susan deciding which piece to devour first!

photo 1

photo 2Cheesy and divine!!

We ate our fill and relaxed on the sofa to talk….Susan said her belly was doing the happy dance with all the yummy cheese!

We had a lovely afternoon….. Thanks Susan!!! I really did ENJOY! 😉

Sweet cool treats ~ Smoothies and Sorbets

I have been getting more than my money’s worth from my Ninja lately. If you have a Vitamix you can play along with me too. I have been making smoothies and just started with sorbets as well.

I am drinking the last of this morning’s smoothie as I write this.

This is a protein smoothie, so here goes:

  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 6 nice sized strawberries
  • a little water (1/4 cup?)
  • ice cubes ~ mine I use 6 -8 but ice maker may be different

Put the whole thing in the Ninja.

Pulse until smooth.

Drink!

I also put sorbet in the freezer. Ready?

Strawberry/banana sorbet:

  • 1 1/2 banana
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen fresh  strawberries
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (you could use agave or honey if you wish)

Pulse until smooth. Pour into a freezer safe container. Freeze. Eat!

image

These treats will be a regular part of my diet this summer. I have ideas and recipes for other fruit and combinations. In fact, you can make some of the a little spicy!

But for now, I am finishing my protein smoothie and waiting for my sorbet to set. I made a luscious salsa for dinner, but I will show you that tomorrow.

Try a smoothie. You can use the yogurt and fruit without the protein too. Either way… ENJOY!!

 

 

 

Summer salads ~ Easy and delicious carrot salad

The weather has been amazing so it has been hard to sit at a computer and write. If I had the photographic talent of others like Saltypalatte, I would be sharing pictures…but suffice it to say I have been drawn outdoors by that big beautiful spherical source of light and joy.

LET THE SALADS BEGIN!

This is a time to put away warm comfort foods and bring on the salads!! I started this weekend with one of the easiest and most delicious… Carrot salad. Now this salad has three – yes I said three – ingredients. That’s it. Two of these ingredients my husband dislikes, but the combination is so yummy it even pleases him.

You need
~ carrots, shredded
~ raisins
~ mayonnaise

Yup. That’s it. Put the shredded carrots in a bowl, add raisins to taste. Barry likes quite a few, so probably 2 cups carrots to nearly a cup of raisins. (You can also use craisins instead.) Put a healthy dollop of mayonnaise on top and mix. Taste a little. If you want more mayo, add a little more.

image

The only ingredient Barry likes is raisins. But the mixture of flavored makes a light and tasty salad. And it gets my hubby to eat carrots. This is amazing!

There are so many tasty salads and it is only May!!

Try this one. You can even buy the carrots already shredded … Can’t get much easier!

Ok, back outside in the sunshine to … Enjoy!

Flavor Seeker ~ Make it at home! Endive Salad

I have said before that I enjoy going out to a really good restaurant and bringing the flavors home. We went to a restaurant recently where we had the loveliest endive salad. The other night, I made this treat for dinner.

We decided to have a finger food night. This consisted of a big bowl of boiled and kosher salted edamame, fresh bakery bread with olive oil and balsamic reduction, and endive salad. It was divine.

image

In particular, I want to tell you this. I made the balsamic reduction and had the smell of vinegar in my sinuses for the next 36 hours! LOL 🙂 Really, a balsamic reduction is very simple. Put some balsamic vinegar in a saucepan. Use twice as much as you want to end up with as it ends up reduced by half. On a medium high heat, bring the vinegar to a rolling boil. Keep it there until the vinegar reduces by half and gets syrupy. Really, that’s it.

Now, a couple of things. One: DO NOT LEAVE THE POT ALONE! Make sure you watch it and whisk frequently. Two: Be certain to do this is an well ventilated room. Turn on the exhaust fan. Open an window! The steam that comes off as the vinegar reduces is pungent!

I started with 2 cups of balsamic vinegar. It took about 10 minutes. So that is a rough estimate for you. It is delicious. I used it for the bread and oil. I also drizzled it over the endive.

Endive Salad

You need:

  • endive leaves
  • cheese crumbles ~ The restaurant used blue cheese, but we like milder cheeses, so I used goat cheese.
  • honey roasted pecans
  • balsamic reduction

image_1

 

So yummy!!!

Try it. And enjoy!!

Flavors of Spring ~ Cooking in the Catskills

So here in the Catskills, spring doesn’t always mean warm. Today is a glorious day, though. The sun is out. The birds are singing. The windows are open! Although the day will be comfortable and the heat is off now, the evening temp will still dip and become chilly. So soup again tonight for Barry. And today I have prepared a brisket for dinner tomorrow. Plan! Plan! Plan!

I looked at dozens of recipes for brisket. Of course I did! And though the southern Texas brisket with it’s BBQ sauce and chipotle seemed tempting, I opted for a sweet and savory type recipe. You know I didn’t use a recipe I found, but made my own from the tastes that Barry loves.

So. The beef is marinating in the fridge. 24 hours will make it ready to sieze up and then break down as I sloooooooooow cook it tomorrow. I kept it simple. First I took the meat and gave it a good rub with salt and garlic. For me I would have used pepper too, but hubby just isn’t a fan.

brisket rubbed

Now for the liquid. The flavors Barry enjoys include red wine (in cooking, he won’t drink it….go figure!), tomatoes, and for a touch of sweet, cherries. In a small saucepan I stared with about 1/2 cup of water and 2 tbsp of tomato paste. I dissolved the paste thoroughly and added 2 cups of a red wine. Then, in a sweet twist, I added about a half of a jar of cherry preserves. I know. Who would have thought it. No salt. No pepper. I did add some garlic powder. Bring to a quick boil and turn off, stirring constantly.

Now before pouring this over a cold piece of meat that you want to put in the fridge for 24 hours, make sure to cool it down. I put a few ice cubes in to speed the process. The cooled liquid, which of course I tasted, was then poured over the meat. Aluminum foil over the top, I placed it on the bottom shelf of the fridge. See you tomorrow morning!

brisket swimming in flavor

We will talk about putting it in the oven tomorrow. I prepared the carrots and celery. There will be onions in there too.

The promise of summer, with its salads and fresh yummy produce is right around the corner. But here in the Catskills, the lovely sunny cool days are a teaser. These nights still call for food that warms.

Going out to enjoy the sun and get my vitamin D. Enjoy!

Food is Love ~ Making soup

Barry loves all things soup. He could eat soup every day! He loves everything about it. And add some warm bread and he is in heaven! ❤

I made a super simple minestrone soup today and he is going to love it. Now don’t freak out, but I added beef to it. Sorry. Barry loves the minestrone, but he loves meat in his soup. Beef minestrone it is.

BEEF MINESTRONE SOUP

So into the dutch oven:

  • 3 cups broth ~ I used veggie today because I had a box open from the other day when I made quinoa
  • 1 28 or 35 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can cannellini beans (navy beans) – oh, and I used 2 cans because Barry LOVES beans
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots ~ diced or chopped to desired size ~ I grated a large one into the pot so the pieces would cook down
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • beef cubes ~ browned and seasoned (optional really)

Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and allow to cook. Really. No kidding. If you used a Dutch oven, you can put it in the oven on 225 or on top on low. I made this at 2:00 and we will eat at 5:00. This is also perfect for the slow cooker! Low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 if you use the slow cooker.

Minestrone

About 30 minutes before you want to eat it, add ditalini – 2 cups cooked. I will add less because I doubled the beans and Barry prefers that. You can also add zucchini (which Barry detests, so I won’t LOL). And you can also add a box of frozen chopped spinach.

When you are ready to eat, take out the bay leaves!!! And then taste a little, see if it needs anything and add a little more…

To serve you can garnish with grated parmesan and torn basil.

Ok, so while I was in the kitchen I whipped up lunch…chicken salad and avocado slices! Mmmmm…. try the soup. You’ll like it. Time for me to go have lunch and enjoy!

LUNCH!