Category: Easter

Spring Lamb Stew

Spring Lamb Stew

IMG_2309

Here in Colorado, our biggest claim to food fame may be western slope peaches. Oh, August…2d209-food-peach-afm

Unless, that is, you’re crazy about lamb like I am. You might remember I once ordered Colorado lamb in London and was very glad to get it.  I really did do bangers and mash the rest of the time.  (Read about American lamb here.)

IMG_2304
Here’s Miss Bo Bo enjoying the sun while I cooked.

I adore Colorado lamb (and love eating locally!), but it’s not always readily available or reasonably priced, so….

Once in a while, I just do the expedient, less expensive thing and buy a big boneless leg of lamb at Costco with the rest of the crowd.  Why not?  Continue reading “Spring Lamb Stew”

Cream of Pea Soup with Mint, Scallions, and Sharp Cheddar or Easter Leftovers

Cream of Pea Soup with Mint, Scallions, and Sharp Cheddar or Easter Leftovers

IMG_7444

Note:  an Instant Pot version of this soup was posted in April of 2018.  The printable recipe on this post includes instructions for both the stove top and Instant Pot versions.

It is a joy and at times a true puzzle to figure out how to use up leftovers, but a good cook lets nothing go to waste.   Or, as Winston Churchill said,

Never let a good crisis go to waste.

And it is at times a “crisis’ in the fridge:  2 boiled eggs, two pieces of bacon, a quart of milk nearly gone bad, a bowl of boiled potatoes, and one piece of sad stale baguette are in your direct view every time you open the door.  Why isn’t there a lovely fillet of salmon, a great bottle of Chardonnay, and deeply-green spinach just out of the neighbor’s garden? Instead of a fresh fish meal, you make a quick potato soup topped with toasted breadcrumbs and then chop together a little egg salad for crackers as a side. And often you’re happier than if you’d cooked from scratch. (Aside: In Seattle, you’re fined $25 if food is found in your garbage.  You must use and eat or compost.)

below:  dogs all dressed up for Easter

IMG_7434

Tuesday morning’s “crisis” (OH DEAR) was a bit of cold Asparagus Vinaigrette with Chopped Eggs I had taken to friends for an Easter Eve supper.  Holiday leftover crises are somewhat worse than the traditional what’s-in-that-tupperware? problem.  Well,  I just heated a small plateful in a skillet and cooked two eggs on top for my breakfast:

IMG_7439

Continue reading “Cream of Pea Soup with Mint, Scallions, and Sharp Cheddar or Easter Leftovers”

Snow Cap Bean and Ham Soup — Bye-Bye Easter Ham Bone

Snow Cap Bean and Ham Soup — Bye-Bye Easter Ham Bone

IMG_5604If you’ve read More Time at the Table for long –and we’re just about to celebrate our fifth birthday — you’ll know I adore beans and particularly love bean soup.  I feel overwhelmingly rich when there’s a ham bone in the refrigerator just waiting for me to throw it in the pot one morning.  While I’ve made bean soup for many years, it rarely comes out exactly the same as it did the time before and while I’m not always sure why that is, I’m happy for it.  Of course the taste is dependent upon which dried bean you use and there’s the rare occasion I’ve used a few different cans of beans when there was no time for the long indulgent soup pot.  Or it might taste differently because of the seasonings or the type or amount of ham.  In this case, I pulled out the Easter ham bone (originally a 7-pound ham that now had been nearly, but not quite, picked clean for sandwiches) and looked in the pantry for a bean just a bit different the typical white, navy, black, split pea, black-eyed pea (actually a legume), etc.

Last time I was at Williams-Sonoma, they had, as they often do, a basket of marked down food products.  I’m willing to pay their price for several items I can’t get elsewhere and that are worth it.  Great vanilla extract, for instance. California olive oil.  But there are other items I’ll spring for only when they’ve made it to the mark down rack.  This is where I’ll buy really expensive Italian or Spanish olive oil that I wouldn’t pay the original $50.00 for.  I’ll pick up unusual cocoa or coffee at half-price.  And this is where I bought Snow Cap Beans, which are heirlooms, for $5.99 (15 ounces) instead of $11.95. Continue reading “Snow Cap Bean and Ham Soup — Bye-Bye Easter Ham Bone”

Egg and Ham Sandwich with Greek Goddess Dip and Radish Salad or Using What You Have on Earth Day

Egg and Ham Sandwich with Greek Goddess Dip and Radish Salad or Using What You Have on Earth Day

IMG_5582After Easter there is a plethora of goodies in the refrigerator.  The blessings of not only having enough to eat, but more than enough (witness my weight problem and perhaps yours, too)… are beautiful if sometimes embarrassing.  “An embarrassment of riches” is what it’s called, I think.   Others might use the pejorative meme, “First world problems.”   I choose to be grateful, but careful.  Full of breath, but conservative in the best sense of the word.  In a country where 30- 40% of our food is discarded, but

48.8 million Americans—including 16.2 million children— live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. As a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year.

(No Kid Hungry dot org)

you can see why a food blogger would think twice before cooking, eating, or posting anything at all.  There are moments I’m shifty-eyed and clench-jawed just thinking of recipes that discuss things like the quality of certain cheeses or chocolates that easily set one back $25 a pound.  Add in to this mix the concepts revolving around our fascination with being thin (witness the folks in magazines or on tv) and a faithful, earth-loving person begins to be more than confused. Continue reading “Egg and Ham Sandwich with Greek Goddess Dip and Radish Salad or Using What You Have on Earth Day”

Carrot Cake Cupcakes or Bunny Cake

Carrot Cake Cupcakes or Bunny Cake

 
 
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
 
What better for Easter dessert than carrot cake?  I’ll freely admit I love carrot cake and am happy for an excuse to make it; Easter’s one of those rare times when I whip up a big fattening dessert and don’t worry about it.   There are usually some other folks willing to eat most of it and I can send leftovers home  with children.  All right, I do keep a bite or two for Dave and I to share on Monday.  There’s a link about making the bunny cake, though it’s fairly obvious, and if you make the cupcakes, let the kids decorate them with the cream cheese icing and jelly beans.  They’re pretty on a big tray filled with Easter “grass.”
 
IMG_5569
.
Disclaimer: I decorate about one cake a year, so forgive my cake. I do always have fun doing it, whether for adults, kids, or a mix.  This old-school bunny method has been around for decades and is simple and easy for children or for anyone who doesn’t have cake decorating skills or equipment.  Icing, jelly beans, licorice whips, and food coloring-dyed sweetened coconut are all you need..
 
(below:  Miss Gab and Tucker all ready for Easter.  Miss Gab wanted a bonnet I refused to buy.)
 
IMG_5558
..
 
Note: This recipe has shown up on the blog before, but it bears repeating. It comes from our housekeeper at Woodlawn Plantation –where I worked years ago — Grace Herson.  If we had someone special coming for dinner at Woodlawn, Grace made carrot cake.  When I left, the women in the house wrote a cookbook for me.  Grace’s addition was this cake.
 .

Grace’s Carrot Cake

Warnings: This cake, while totally delicious, is prone to a sink hole at its center for the 9×13 or 2 9″ layer versions. Fill it with icing and no one’s the wiser. After years, I still can’t fix the problem.

UPDATE:  The hole in the center problem can be helped by either grating the carrots by  hand and pressing out extra moisture with paper towels or grating them with the food processor and letting them dry for 30 minutes on sheet pans and then pressing out extra moisture with towels. (See photo at bottom of post.)  The problem evidently comes from the weight of the extra water in the carrots.

The cupcakes easily run over and sometimes have a hole, too.  Don’t overfill the cupcake tins and, if they still over run, scrape them each back off the tin carefully and remove to cool on rack. Trim, cool completely, then cover with icing!

makes 1 9×13 cake,  2 9″ layers for one bunny cake+, or about 24 cupcakes      
 
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs (I use extra large at altitude or add an extra egg.)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I use Canola now)
3 cups grated carrots (blotted dry w/ towel if you use food processor or the extra liquid will make the cake sink-which it may do anyway.)
1 cup chopped walnuts
 
 
Icing:  8 ounces cream cheese, 4 Tablespoons softened butter, 3 1/2  cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  (If you make cupcakes, use 350 F.)

 
Cake: mix dry ingredients together and add eggs, oil and mix well. Add carrots and nuts and mix well again. Turn into greased 9x13x2″ pan  or scoop into cupcake tins* and bake 45-55 minutes for cake, 25-30 for the 9-inch pans, and about 20 minutes for cupcakes or until a toothpick stuck in middle comes out clean. Cool well in pan, if making the 9×13. Remove cupcakes from the pans and cool on racks.  For 9-inch round pans –used for bunny cake — let them cool in the pans about 10 minutes before turning out onto racks to cool completely.  Bang pans soundly on the counter before tipping out.
 
Ice all cakes when completely cooled, piping icing  onto cupcakes and topping with a bit of tinted coconut and 3 or 4 jelly beans, if desired.
 
Refrigerate if not eating that day. Cake freezes very well for up to one month.
.
*I like muffins and cupcakes baked right in the greased tins so that the cake batter hits the hot metal directly for a nice crust instead of steaming in the paper liners.  If you’d like to use paper liners, which many bakers do, please feel free.
 
+The two nine-inch layers form the bunny:  one layer is her body and the other layer is cut into three pieces that form the two ears and the bow tie.  See Bunny Cake directions below.
.
 
Icing: Beat cream cheese and butter together very well for 2 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar (or you’ll have a big mess). Beat in vanilla and whip icing until very smooth.
.

bunny cake:   If you’d like to make this into a bunny cake, follow these directions.

 

{printable recipe for cupcakes or 9×13 cake}

 
Here’s what my 9×13 cake looks like with my oh-so-artsy carrot at center.  (Just draw a carrot with greens freehand with a toothpick and fill with orange frosting for carrot and green for the greens.)
.
 
0a91a-100_4646
 .
Sing a new song,
Alyce
 
 
below:  drying out the shredded carrots.
 
 
38 Power Foods, Week 36 — Rainbow Trout — Pan-Fried Trout Brunch with Red Pepper-Zucchini Potatoes and Fried Eggs

38 Power Foods, Week 36 — Rainbow Trout — Pan-Fried Trout Brunch with Red Pepper-Zucchini Potatoes and Fried Eggs

 
Skip the quiche this Easter and fry up a tasty rainbow trout to go with your eggs and a big platter of potatoes with peppers and zucchini. While this is a lovely and not too time-consuming brunch (no do-aheads), it necessitates planning and … well …and doing things in approximately the order (see below), as fish waits for no one.  
Servings:   One fish will serve two people generously.  There’s plenty of Avocado-Basil Mayonnaise and potatoes for four. If you do have four, you’ll need to buy two trout and cook one, putting it in the warming oven while you cook the second.   Alternately, each of the four of you could have a small serving of the single trout.  With the eggs, it’s a filling meal.
       

1.  Make the coffee.  You’ll need it.  Take four eggs out of the frig. 
2.  Set the table–including butter, jam, salt, pepper, water, etc. (Or have a helper do this.)
3.  Make the avocado-basil mayonnaise and place on table.*
4.  Slice half a lemon and put on table.
5.  Make the potatoes and vegetables; place in 200 degree oven to keep warm.*
6.  Set up toaster with bread, but don’t push down yet.
7.  Make the three large dishes with flours and wet mixtures for fish.*
8.  Heat oil in skillet to fry fish.
9.  Set up skillet for eggs; melt butter.  Turn off.
10. Fry fish.*  When you turn it over, start the eggs and push down the toast.
      A helper at this point would be nice.
11. Pour coffee.  Bring oven vegetables out and place on platter.
12. Drain fish on a paper-towel lined baking pan or platter.
13. Gently place fish on top of hot potato mixture.
14. Butter toast and serve up eggs.
15. Enjoy it while it’s hot served with the Avocado-Basil Mayonnaise.
*=Recipe included

AVOCADO-BASIL MAYONNAISE

To the work bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade, pulse together until pureed:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Flesh of one avocado
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 teaspoon whole grain or Dijon-style mustard
Pinch each:  kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Generous shake or two of hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Makes about a cup.  Refrigerate leftovers well-covered; use for vegetable dip or salad dressing.

POTATOES WITH PEPPERS AND ZUCCHINI

1 tablespoon each: olive oil and butter
 Pinch crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons crushed rosemary
2 large russet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 small onion, chopped
Kosher salt; fresh ground black pepper
2 small zucchini, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
1 clove garlic, minced  
2-3 tablespoons water 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place potatoes in a microwave safe container with a splash of water, cover tightly, and microwave at full power for three minutes.  Drain.

Heat oil, butter, crushed red pepper, and rosemary in a large, deep skillet over low heat for a minute or two.


Pour the drained potatoes, red bell pepper, and onion into the heated skillet and season well with 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper; raise heat to medium.  Cook five minutes or until bell pepper is softening; add garlic and zucchini.  Spoon in water, stir, and cover.  Lower heat again and cook until all the vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Spoon vegetables onto an oven-safe platter or container and place in oven to keep warm while you cook fish and eggs.  When trout is about done (after turning over), remove from oven and place on a serving platter if needed.

PAN-FRIED TROUT

Don’t be scared; he doesn’t bite.

  • 1 cup all purpose white flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided 
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped parsley and dill
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk 
  • Hot sauce 
  • 1 approximately 3/4-pound cleaned rainbow trout, head and tail left on (rinsed and patted dry)
  • Olive oil
  • Canola Oil

 

1.  Into one of three shallow bowls, place 1/2 cup flour mixed well with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
2. Into another bowl, place the rest of the flour, the cornmeal, fresh herbs, lemon zest, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt,  and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well.
3.  Into the third bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and 4-5 drops hot sauce.
4.  Dip both sides of trout first in the flour-salt-pepper mixture, then in the buttermilk mixture, and last in the flour-cornmeal mixture.  Set on plate while you heat oil.
5.  Into a large, deep skillet, pour a mixture of olive and canola oil to fill the skillet 1/4 – 1/2 inch deep.   Heat over medium-high heat.  Gently lay fish in the oil and cook 4-5 minutes or until quite brown on one side.
6.  Carefully turn fish and cook another 2-3 minutes or until browned and, when tested inside, fish is firm and flaking.
7.  Drain fish on paper towels while you fry four eggs in prepared skillet (no recipe included.)  and make your toast.
8.  Gently transfer fish to the platter with the warm potatoes and vegetables.  
9.  Using a sharp, serrated knife and cooking fork, separate head from the body of the fish with a quick cut.  Gently pry apart the opened body of the trout to expose the spine, bones, and flesh.
Filet by removing as much of the skeleton as possible.  Cut fish in half and serve with eggs, potatoes, avocado-basil mayo, and toast.  I leave the tail on for serving.  Watch for bones!

You CAN also filet the trout before cooking; I think the trout is tastier cooked whole.

For detailed trout prep, check this out. 

… … … … …
rainbow trout are sustainable native American fish with a beautiful, delicate flavor.  To me, they’re the American version of sole, one of my favorites.  At about eight dollars a pound for fresh trout, they’re a perfect value for healthy, omega-3s and also have plenty of B vitamins and antioxidants.  Racking up a whopping! 260 calories per six-ounce serving (approximate) makes trout a top-value food.  Catch them yourself or buy farmed trout at your supermarket or fishmonger.
… … … …

 38 Power Foods is a Team Effort!

Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

All sites may not blog power foods each week.

  

ON MY DINNER PLACE BLOG THIS WEEK:

MY VERY BEST FROSTED BROWNIES, A SMALL PAN:  

 

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Fresh Berry Cake for Mother’s Day–Bake or Not

Fresh Berry Cake for Mother’s Day–Bake or Not

Looks like Mother’s Day!

I hope you’re looking for a cake to make for your Mom for Mother’s Day.  If you are, you’re sooo wonderful.  What mom wouldn’t love someone who baked a great-looking and yummy cake like this?   I made it to take to a friend’s for Easter and took it unassembled as I wanted it as fresh as it could be. 

Just looking at this cake will tell you that it’s not difficult to make and it’s NOT.  A quick glance at the recipe, however, might put you off.  Don’t let it.  There may be a little reading involved, but the cooking and baking are fairly simple and don’t take long.  In fact, though it’s two layers, you only bake one cake.  After it’s cool, you cut it in half.

 

But listen, if you’re not a baker, this is just the cake for you… because you can get away without baking a cake at all!  Just buy a Sara Lee pound cake and cut it into layers–maybe three?–and do a loaf-shaped cake on a pretty rectangular tray.  Follow the rest of the directions for the berries and filling and there you are!   You could also bake a box cake into cupcakes, slice them, put half in a pretty coffee cup and decorate from there.  Whatever you do, this is a beautiful, tasty cake for mom or anyone.
If you don’t have a special cake plate, don’t worry about it.  Whoever eats this will be happy no matter what.  Next time you run in Good Will or see a funky antique shop, keep an eye our for great serving pieces.  No need to spend a fortune at the department stores. 

Another idea comes from my mother-in-law, who, when I was  a young wife, often made a similar cake using a homemade or store bought angel food cake.  To cut calories, she used Cool Whip, but I can’t go that far.   If I’m eating cake I want to eat cake.  Let them eat cake!  But if you really must cut the whipped cream for health or allergy reasons, try the Cool Whip version.

courtesy Sara Lee Desserts

Easy Berry Butter Cake (Aida Mollenkamp–courtesy Food Network)

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins, plus cooling time | Active Time: 25 mins | Makes:8 to 10 servings

  • For the cake:*

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating the pan

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon fine salt

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened, plus more for coating the pan

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

*Or use a purchased cake like Sara Lee Pound Cake

  • For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

To assemble:

  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed berries*, washed (if you’re using *strawberries, they’ll also need to be hulled and quartered)  You might not need quite this many berries; mine didn’t fit on the cake.
INSTRUCTIONS
For the cake:
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with butter and flour, tap out the excess flour, and set the pan aside. Combine measured flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until evenly combined; set aside.
  2. Place measured butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium high until light in color and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium high until white in color and the texture of wet sand, about 3 minutes more.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, letting each incorporate fully before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on low, add half of the flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated, then add milk and continue mixing until smooth. Add the rest of the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated, about 2 minutes more.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and turn out onto the rack, right side up, to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the filling.

For the filling:

  1. Place mascarpone in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add cream, sugar, and almond extract, increase speed to medium high, and whip until ingredients are combined and firm peaks form, about 15 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble: *

  1. Slice cake in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Divide filling evenly between the cut side and the top of the cake. Divide berries evenly over the filling. Stack cakes on top of each other and serve.
If using a purchased cake like frozen Sara Lee pound cake, you might want to slice it (into thirds, perhaps) while it’s still partially frozen.
Note:  I’ll share with you that whenever I’ve made a recipe by Aida Mollenkamp, it’s been incredible.  I don’t see her on Food Network anymore; is she still on?  But she does have a lot of recipes.  One that immediately comes to mind is her lasagna.  Have mercy.  I could double in size eating that stuff.
Need a great idea for Mother’s Day? 
      Send Mom an ecard and give to Share our Strength:  No Kid Hungry here.

Sing a new song and bake/make an easy cake,

Alyce
No-Hassle Easter

No-Hassle Easter

Cupcakes–Make them and freeze them tonight.  Defrost and frost Saturday or Order plain from the bakery and decorate at home.

no hassle Easter menu  serves 8

Deviled Eggs*
Make-ahead Green Bean Salad with Shallot Cream Dressing**
Pan-Grilled Double Lamb Rib Chops with Tapenade**
Oven-Roasted Rosemary Whole Carrots**
Czech Easter Bread, optional *
Cupcakes with Jelly Bean Frosting (Buy or Make)*

My choices for wine:  Bethel Heights Pinot Gris
           Fisher Cabernet Sauvignon — your choice— or ask your winemonger for a great Cab for Easter

**Recipes below
*Click link for recipe/choose your own

Czech Easter Bread (Link to recipe above.)
This menu promises full tummies and smiles all around for the Bunny-Cooks who
 bake up/buy some cupcakes in the next day or two, 
 make short work of the  leftover boiled eggs turned starter deviled eggs,
 throw some fresh vegetables into the microwave briefly to create a spring salad extraordinaire,
 and then grill a few tiny, but fat double lamb chops while quick-roasting a pan full of long, slim carrots covered with pepper and rosemary.  Phew. 
Just a few tulips–the perfect centerpiece.

 Or why do it all yourself?  You might get your cousin to do the cupcakes, your sister to do the salad, and so on.  Make the day easy on yourself since someone had to clean the house and put out the egg-shaped candles, afterall. But if you’re doing it all yourself, here’s how:

No cupcakes for these guys.

 GAME PLAN:  


1. Today or Tomorrow:   Do grocery shopping.  Make/buy carrot cake cupcakes. Freeze plain cupcakes. 
2.  Friday:  Make tapenade and store well-covered.  Keep others out of it until Sunday.  Boil eggs.
3. Saturday:  Used boiled Easter eggs and make deviled eggs.  Store loosely covered in refrigerator. Do not sprinkle with paprika until ready to serve.  Here are three recipes or make your own. 
4. Saturday or Sunday morning:  Make the salad and dressing. (recipes below); refrigerate them separately until Sunday.
5.  Sunday: 

  • In the morning:  unthaw and frost cupcakes if not already done.  Store out of reach of the dogs and kids.
  • ”    ”      ”       :  set and decorate table
  • 1 1/2 hours before dinner:  Bring lamb chops to room temperature.  Uncork/decant red wine.
  • Set out deviled eggs and uncork white wine for starters.
  • Peel/prepare carrots and place on a half-sheet pan.  Prepare chops for cooking.
  • Pan-grill, then roast chops and oven-roast carrots.  Place chops and carrots on a large platter with tapenade and pass at the table.
  • Just before eating:  Spoon salad into large serving bowl, drizzle with dressing, and toss well.  Pour red wine. Place bread on table if serving.
  • Serve cupcakes and smile. 

  recipes:

 Make-Ahead Green Bean Salad with Cream Shallot Dressing
    serves 8

This recipe calls for you to blanch the beans and fresh peas briefly in boiling water, drain, and cool quickly in an ice bath.  You can also cook them, separately, in the microwave for 2-3 minutes with just a couple of tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe covered bowl.

  • 6 cups fresh haricots verts or green beans, trimmed, blanched, cooled in ice bath, and drained
  • 3 cups fresh green peas (or frozen), blanched, cooled in ice bath, and drained
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 1/2 c each diced red  bell pepper, yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper



Dressing:   2T minced shallots, 2T lemon juice, 1 cup half and half, 2T finely minced flat-leaf parsley,  1/4 tsp each sea salt/ fresh ground pepper, 1 tsp grated lemon zest,  2 drops Tabasco.  Place all ingredients in a jar with a tightly-fitted lid and shake vigorously when making and just before dressing salad.

  1.  One day ahead:  Mix all salad ingredients—except lemon juice– together in a large bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. 
  2. When ready to serve, add lemon juice and toss well.  Drizzle with dressing and toss again.  Taste and re-season.  (You’ll have leftover dressing.  Store in refrigerator 2-3 days.)

Note: This salad is loosely based on one from the book SALAD FOR DINNER by Patricia Wells, who is one of my favorite cookbook authors.

Pan-grilled Double Lamb Rib Chops with Tapenade and Oven-Roasted Rosemary Carrots

  serves 8

  A. Up to two days ahead, make tapenade and store tightly covered in the refrigerator:

Tapenade- Chopped olives, garlic, parsley and anchovies.  Great with sliced baguette or crackers, too.
  • 2 cups pitted kalamata olives
  • 3 anchovies
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil                                              
  • 1T red wine vinegar
  • 1T fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • salt, if needed, to taste   

Process all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Store, well-covered, in refrigerator until needed.  Serve in a bowl on the table for guests to help themselves or spoon a bit on each chop if you like. 

B.  For chops and carrots ( recipe, see below) — about 45 minutes before dinner time.

  •     8 double lamb rib chops at room temperature
  •      olive oil
  •      kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

 

  • 2 dozen long, thin carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4T finely minced fresh rosemary

 
 Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

 Place carrots on a large baking sheet/s, drizzle with oil and dust generously with salt, pepper, and   rosemary.  Place pan of carrots in the oven on a rack in the bottom third of the oven and roast until tender and somewhat crispy.

Heat grill pan or large, heavy skillet/s for the chops over medium-high heat.  Place another rack, for the chops, in the upper third.

  1. Meantime, drizzle chops with olive oil on both sides and salt and pepper thoroughly on both sides.  Brown chops very well on each side and remove to a roasting pan or oven-safe casserole.  When all the chops are browned, place pan/casserole in the oven and roast until done to your liking. 
  2.  Use instant-read thermometer to determine if chops are done.  I like mine fairly rare (quite pink) and took them out to rest when the temperature was between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you’d like them just pink, try 140 degrees.  Quite done is about 160.
  3. Remove pan/casserole from oven and remove chops to serving platter.  Let sit 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Remove carrots from the oven and add them to the platter. Serve hot with tapenade  

Note:  If you’d like to use nice big and thick bone-in pork chops instead of lamb chops, they’ll work just as well using the same process.  You’ll want them cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (medium rare) and allowed to rest a few minutes.  Great with tapenade.

Happy Easter and Sing a New Song,
Alyce

Czech Easter Bread or It Tastes Like Spring

Czech Easter Bread or It Tastes Like Spring

   

Travel creates opportunities for brief blogs, my friends.   So here are the pics/recipe for the Czech Easter bread, which was huge, crusty,  and tender with a bit of a lemon feel.  Studded with golden and black raisins, as well as apricots (my additions-no citron to be found), it was only a tish sweet.  Fine with Easter dinner.  Also lovely for any holiday at all.  Sorry it didn’t get posted until AFTER Easter, but here it is in its glory.

Czech Easter Bread

Makes 1 large loaf Czech Easter Cake or Velikonoční Bochánek

Mixing in the fruit
Before the addition of the last 2 cups of flour

 

Get all the flour in

Prep Time: 1 hour Cook Time: 1 hour Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup scalded milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup sugar (or less, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 large room-temperature eggs, beaten
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup golden or dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup chopped citron (I subbed 2t grated Meyer lemon rind and 1/3 c chopped dried apricots)
  • Topping:
  • 1 large room-temperature egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons blanched sliced almonds
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Add butter, sugar and salt to scalded milk. Stir to combine and let cool to lukewarm.
  • Place yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and, with the paddle attachment, stir until dissolved. Add lukewarm milk mixture and 2 eggs and combine.
  • Add 3 cups flour and beat with the paddle until smooth. Add the raisins, almonds, citron, and remaining flour and mix, 3 to 5 minutes until smooth. Dough will be sticky.
  • Place dough in greased bowl. Turn over and cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 1 hour. See this Quick Tip for faster rising.
  • Punch down dough and turn out onto lightly floured board. Knead a few minutes and shape into a large round loaf. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
Use bread flour
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush bread with 1 beaten egg. Cut a cross in top of loaf with scissors and sprinkle entire surface with almonds. Bake 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 30-45 minutes or until instant-read temperature registers 190 degrees. Let cool completely before slicing. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before cutting, if desired.

Recipe courtesy About.com

 

 

 

 

 

Two-Dog or Two-Cardinal Kitchen

Ok, we’re out of the kitchen.  For now.

 

How long are you going to bake bread, Mom?

 

My kissin’ Cardinals feeding one another outside the kitchen window.

 

 

 

Front yard.  Ah, Spring!
Easing on into Easter or It Snowed on my Lilac Buds

Easing on into Easter or It Snowed on my Lilac Buds

Pork Tenderloin, Couscous and Sauteed Vegetables with Balsamic Fig Sauce

 Wherever I’ve lived, with the exception of San Antonio, there has been freak weather like snow on Halloween and Easter.  (Is it really freak?)  My own memories of Easter just south of Chicago are not necessarily warm and beautiful, but neither are they freezing with snow.  Perhaps I misremember.  But my kids’ Easter (and Halloween) photos show a yearly progression from clown to Easter lily all in a background of white.

This year may prove no different.

Here’s this morning’s view.

Doesn’t look like it’ll stay for long.  Below:  lilac trees ( no bushes in my yard) in frozen bud
 

 Below:   What they should (and will again) look like.

Coming up on Palm Sunday, this Sunday, I always know that while it’s just a week until Easter, it’s also forever.  This might come from my years as a director of church music.  For two reasons:  1.  The time spent preparing the music for 4-6 services within one week is a learning experience.  Sometimes it includes a Lenten cantata.  It always includes a humdinger of an Easter anthem.  If ever you’re going to pull out all the stops (and that’s literally here), this is the time.  2.  You’re right there, living it all.  The lyrics to from Palm or Passion Sunday through Easter are not just powerful, they are both life-giving and life-changing.

I will send the Holy Spirit to you….  He’ll remind you all the things that I’ve said and—–I will always be with you.

Each pastor I worked with had different favorite Holy Week texts, so every year I’d read them and every year I knew them better (that’s not to say well). And while I knew the differences between the gospels (ok, this year the text has one angel; we can’t do THAT song where there are TWO), I’m not sure I understood them any better for it.  I did, though, become more thoughtful about how and why it all happened.  I had more time than most to consider what the disciples did all day on Friday or what the weight of that stone might be.  Your mind runs around as a sacred musician.   You’re the dreamer.  I knew that my faithful folks had one combined vision/story of the week.  Some couldn’t handle it and opted out of Thursday or Friday night services.  They liked going from the palms to the lilies.  That broke my heart.  Because without the hopeful meal teaching a new commandment on Thursday, the frightful heart-breaking cold of Friday, and the long looking of Saturday, we have no flowery bonnets, alleluia music, egg hunt or brunch.  We have no life, no plan, no nothing, nada, zip, zero, zap.

   

What?  No chocolate?**

Pork Tenderloin with Couscous, Sauteed Vegetables and Balsamic Fig Sauce 
  Serves 6 (divide or multiply)
Couscous:
2 boxes couscous (olive oil and garlic variety)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup raisins

Pork:
3 pork tenderloins
3 cloves of garlic, slivered
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6T olive oil, divided

Vegetables:
2 medium eggplant
2 each:  sweet yellow and red pepper
2 large red onions, cut into 1/8s
12 oz button mushrooms
2 each:  zucchini and yellow squash
Sauce:
6T fig jam (often in the cheese section of a good grocery)
4T balsamic vinegar (or more to taste–be careful)
3T white wine (can use lemon juice instead)
  1. Make couscous basically according to package directions, but first saute the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the raisins, the water…etc.  Cover to keep warm after done. Set aside.   Later, fluff with a fork and grind a little pepper over the top for garnish.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Heat a large grill pan, roasting pan or the bbq grill* to medium high.   Meantime,   brush the meat with oil and make 10-12 slits (fairly evenly) on each of the three pork tenderloins.  Insert a sliver of garlic into each slit.  Salt and pepper well.
  4. Grill the pork for 4-5 minutes over high heat.  Turn; repeat. Remove from stove and place pan in oven.  (You can take meat from grill pan and put it in a large casserole even.)  Let meat cook until instant meat thermometer reads 150 for medium-rare, 155 for medium and 160 for done.  Remove from oven and cover lightly with foil  Let rest 5-10 minutes.
  5. Meantime (or ahead), in a large skillet (or two large skillets), saute vegetables in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Season well with salt and pepper, but don’t add other herbs here unless you just have to.  (The can fight with the fig sauce.)  If your vegetables are done before the meat, you can re-heat briefly in the pan(s).
  6. Alternately, you can roast these vegetables in the oven on a half-sheet pan ahead of time and reheat them while the meat rests. 
  7. Make fig sauce:  In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Drizzle over meat at serving time. 
  8. * If you decide to grill, brown the meat well and then lower the heat and cover until done.   
What else?
A small salad?  Some cheese?  Someone brings rolls or bread? Definitely deviled eggs!  If no one will make a bunny cake, buy a great cheesecake and call it Easter.  Keep it festive and thoughtful.  Some Easter grass and a few eggs on the table are quick decorations.  You might also want to make my carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and jellie bellies.


The link there is for my article on examiner.com, which doesn’t give my recipe for carrot cake, but provides for other options.  My own cake and frosting is right here on the blog, of course.

Wine?  I like a Syrah here.  Go California; the prices on California Syrahs are great right now.  Qupe is luscious and inexpensive.  If you want to spend a bit more, get the phone now and quickly order some Cristom Syrah (only the ’07 is left) and tell them to quick-ship, if possible.  The Cristom will be less fruity, spicier and will assuredly have more pepper.
I’ll be thinking of you this week, as we all make this trip without skipping one piece of scenery and then sing a new song,
Alyce 
**Chocolate bunny pic: courtesy Twice Pix
And this year, in some ways, is no different.  I don’t have a choir to prepare (and I miss every one always), I have myself.  This year, again, I’m reading THE LAST WEEK by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan.  I’ll be in worship tomorrow thinking about how Jesus appeared to the woman on the street.  Sitting on a donkey.  Or why people still stripped off their clothes and threw them down in front of him.  And then I’ll begin the long walk of Holy week.

Oh, dear:  did you come here for a recipe?  This one’s sooo simple; I promise.  It’s great for two, but is easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled or whatever.  Get someone else to bring the deviled eggs and the bunny cake.  You’ve got Easter dinner covered.