Category: Summer

Grilled Mini Southwest Turkey Meatloaves with Cilantro Coleslaw and Tuxedo Cowboy Beans

Grilled Mini Southwest Turkey Meatloaves with Cilantro Coleslaw and Tuxedo Cowboy Beans

For many Americans of my generation, meatloaf was a regular dinner event as we were growing up. Perhaps it still is? And while meatloaf is easy and simple, it’s neither easy or simple to make well. Just bring up meatloaf when you’re gathered with a few other people. The responses will range from…

Continue reading “Grilled Mini Southwest Turkey Meatloaves with Cilantro Coleslaw and Tuxedo Cowboy Beans”
Best Summer Sides from More Time at the Table

Best Summer Sides from More Time at the Table

Grilled Zucchini and Corn Salad

This week marks the beginning of weekend picnics, warm holiday get togethers, nights in the backyard, weeks at the beach, days at the cabin, and all kinds of thrilling grilling on your balcony or patio!  For fun, I ran through my TOP FAVORITE original summer sides on More Time at Table and brought them all together in one place just before Memorial Day.  I’ll keep perusing my files and as I find other luscious things I think you’d like, I’ll stick them in.  Be cool!

Continue reading “Best Summer Sides from More Time at the Table”

Surf and Turf Salad with Blueberries, Goat Cheese, and Fennel and Maple-Orange Vinaigrette

Surf and Turf Salad with Blueberries, Goat Cheese, and Fennel and Maple-Orange Vinaigrette

IMG_5107

My daughter-in-law, Jami,  pregnant with our granddaughter, hasn’t had much appetite.  I said to her, “What sounds good?”  She said, “I’m supposed to be eating more red meat, but I just don’t feel like eating.  I loved that salmon you made last week.”  So I made the salmon (or Dave did–on the grill) and also a couple of strip steaks.  She loves cauliflower, so that, too was on the menu–steamed and topped with a generous grating of sharp cheddar. (No leftover cauliflower!)  A pot of jasmine rice finished out the meal, as Jami is Gluten-Free.

Over the meal, which Jami ate if not with abandon, at least with appetite, we talked baby names.  Samantha came up, as did Gwendolyn.  Aileen was uttered.  “What Celtic names do you know?”  Well, I couldn’t think of many Celtic names, but I did tell her the names of our grandmothers, just for fun:

  • Lela
  • May
  • Leona
  • Laura (pronounced Lara)

They of course already knew their own grandmother’s names, though I later realized that two of them shared the middle name Jean. Continue reading “Surf and Turf Salad with Blueberries, Goat Cheese, and Fennel and Maple-Orange Vinaigrette”

Slow Oven BBQ Ribs with Spicy Broccoli-Potato Salad

Slow Oven BBQ Ribs with Spicy Broccoli-Potato Salad

Barbeque ribs made in my kitchen oven on a cold, cold day made it seem like…well, somewhat nearer to summer, let’s say!

 In the middle of of the winter, I become entranced with the idea of summer food.  I crave hamburgers on the grill eaten outside at the picnic table.  I adore the idea of Sangria and a big crab salad.  (I have the opposite reaction when in mid-July I crave beef stew. Every year.)

Maybe it’s just vacation that draws me.

But I really think it’s the food.

So I make a summer meal the best way I can.  I throw a checked tablecloth on the dining room table, put the beer mugs in the freezer, and make something we typically only eat in the summertime.  Like ribs.  Just in time for Super Bowl or any other cold February day.  Brrr.

 Here’s how… in (mostly) chronological order with photos:

… … ... … … … …

               Cook’s note:  These ribs cook for three hours. You’ll make the broccoli-potato salad during the last forty minutes (or earlier, if you’d like).

slow oven barbeque ribs and spicy broccoli-potato salad
makes 1 rack of ribs and plenty of potato salad for 4-6

Disclaimer!  These “recipe” ingredients (with the exception of the bbq sauce and the mustard vinaigrette) and the methods are pretty loose;  I did not document my process as I often do.  Use your best cooking sense and make this meal your own.  For instance, I do not measure rub ingredients; I mix a rub and smell it to see if it’s about how I’d like it.  (Click on “favorite rub” to find a rub you’d enjoy.)  And I don’t put brown sugar in my rubs, which most people do.  My brown sugar is in my sauce.  Do make  your own barbeque sauce…link provided below.   Or take a basic recipe from somewhere and make it your own.  Don’t buy sauce; it’s a ripoff.  You’ll love having it in the refrigerator for burgers or chicken.  Have fun!

 Preheat oven to 300 degrees    Dry ribs with a paper towel and rub both sides well with your favorite rub.

  • I like approximately 2 teaspoons each kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, rosemary, and dehydrated onion and garlic.  I then add 1/4 teaspoon each ground cayenne and cinnamon.  Mix this all together in a small bowl before rubbing on ribs.  (Enough for one rack of ribs–or make more to your taste.)  Some cooks apply this rub the night before, storing rubbed ribs in the refrigerator.  I do it right before I cook them.

Place rubbed ribs on a foil-lined sheet pan and let roast 2 1/2 hours, turning over once midway through cooking time.  In the meantime, make your own barbeque sauce.  (Scroll down for my “recipe.”)

About 40 minutes (or more),  before the ribs are done, start the potato salad:  Place 10-12 red potatoes in a heavy Dutch Oven with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt along with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.   Heat pan over medium-high flame and cover tightly. Reduce heat to medium low.  Let cook twenty minutes or so, turning down heat if potatoes are browning too quickly or turning up if they’re not cooking.   (If you’d like a boiled egg in your potato salad, now’s the time to make one. Without the egg, the broccoli-potato salad is a hearty vegan dish.)

 Cut two larges heads of broccoli into florets and chop 2 tablespoons red onion (finely)  and 1/4 cup each  fresh parsley, red or yellow bell peppers, carrots, and celery.  Set aside all the vegetables except broccoli.

 Add broccoli to pot and cover for another ten minutes or so or until both potatoes and broccoli are tender.  They may get crispy or browned–no matter.
 

In the meantime, check the oven:
 
After about 2 1/2 hours:  Remove ribs from oven and brush thickly with barbeque sauce. Return to oven.  Repeat every ten minutes 2-3 x until ribs are tender and browned (or until they’re cooked to your liking.) 

Back to the potatoes and broccoli:

 When broccoli and potatoes are tender, remove from pot, chop into 1-2-inches pieces and place potatoes in a large bowl.  Season lightly with salt and pepper, a pinch of crushed red pepper,  and drizzle well with Mustard-Tarragon Dressing while hot (see below for dressing recipe.) Stir well.  Add the broccoli along with reserved chopped fresh vegetables and a chopped boiled egg, if using.  (Skip egg for a vegan version.) Stir well, taste and adjust seasonings, adding more dressing as needed.  Serve warm or at room temperature with extra dressing at table.  (You can choose to add the broccoli along with the potatoes if you like; it’s simpler.  I like the vinaigrette to hit the hot potatoes.)

When both potato salad and ribs are done, cut ribs into two-rib portions and serve with warm or room-temperature broccoli-potato salad.  Enjoy!

Wine, if you’re not drinking beer for the game:  Any California zinfandel.

        ——-Recipes——–

 Barbeque Sauce

2 cups each ketchup and chili sauce
1/4 cup each lemon juice and red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons each yellow mustard, Worcestershire, A-1 Sauce
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4-5 Big swigs of Tabasco or other hot sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons celery seed

 Whisk together in a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium flame. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Lower heat to simmer and let cook 30 minutes.  Store leftovers in a tightly sealed jar for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

 
Mustard-Tarragon Dressing

1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced or grated

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

3T white wine vinegar (I like Chardonnay, but any will do.)

9T extra-virgin olive oil (the best you have for this salad)

1/2 t kosher salt and 1/4 t fresh ground pepper

2 drops hot sauce, such as Tabasco or more to taste

1T chopped fresh tarragon  or 1 t dried

In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard and vinegar. Slowly add olive oil, whisking all the time or after every addition. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce and tarragon. Whisk until well-emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.   Store leftovers in a covered jar so you can shake the dressing right before each use.
… … … …

Sing a new song,
Alyce

38 Power Foods, Week 17 — Berries — Fresh Berry Cake

38 Power Foods, Week 17 — Berries — Fresh Berry Cake

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 Easter, Mother’s Day, or the Memorial Day picnic.  (Assemble this cake where you’re serving it.)  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, see a funky antique shop or a garage sale,  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.
Cook’s Note:  While October isn’t prime berry time (there are still a few blueberries coming from upper Michigan and Canada), I made this earlier in the year and knew it would be perfect for the Power Foods Berry Post.  Save the recipe for next spring if you’d like to try it with all fresh berries.
I made this for Mother’s Day and took it to a friend’s.  We all had a tiny slice with a huge cup of coffee. 

 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.
    1. 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:
    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.  (Recipe first posted in May of 2012)
     

    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. Can’t make that very often.
     

     I like berries because of all the things they can do for us…provide tons of vitamins, fiber, antioxidants,  memory ability boosters, and more…  But I also love them because they’re gorgeous, inexpensive (relatively),  taste incredibly good, and are low in calories.  Many of them are also easy to grow at home.  And while we’re out of berry season in most places in the country, I just got a couple of pints of Michigan blueberries much like the tiny wild Maine berries that are often lusciously sweet-tart and make such great pancakes and muffins.  For more on berries and why we should eat them, click here. 
      ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
     I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about beautiful berries this week at these sites: 
    Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
    Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

    Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
    .
    Want to join us?  We’d like to have you as part of the group.  Get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com


    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Need some fall love?
    Try reading this week on my Dinner Place blog (Cooking for One):
    Sing a new song,
    Alyce
    P.S.  Fellow blogger @donteatalone.blogspot.com,  Milton Brasher-Cunningham, has just published a book you might be interested in:
    Check it out!

     

Linguine Caprese or How I Got My Tomatoes On

Linguine Caprese or How I Got My Tomatoes On

Saute a little garlic and shallots; cook up some pasta.  Add fresh tomatoes, chopped mozzerella, parsley and basil. That’s it.

I seem to be spending every waking hour figuring out how to use up the cherry tomatoes and basil that just keep coming.  (Was there a little voice whispering, “Fresh pasta?”)

Continue reading “Linguine Caprese or How I Got My Tomatoes On”

38 Power Foods, Week 13 — Swiss Chard — Vinegar-Chard with Apples, Shallots, and Honey

38 Power Foods, Week 13 — Swiss Chard — Vinegar-Chard with Apples, Shallots, and Honey

Not terribly photogenic, but quite delicious.

  I don’t cook Swiss chard a lot, though when I make it, I’m always happy I have and wonder why I don’t make it more often.  It’s a fast side for chops or chicken (chop/saute),  tops rice beautifully, and fills an omelet like nothing else.  Did I mention it’s gorgeous?

Last night, after a long day full of lectionary study, lunch out, children’s music meeting, and grocery shopping, I walked in the door not knowing what in the world I was doing with my Swiss Chard for today’s post.  I also knew I wanted to be all done with dinner in time to watch the convention; I am, if nothing else, a sincere John Kerry fan. (And he was a superhero last night!! Yikes.)  I scouted around the kitchen trying to think what else could go in that pan and what I came up with was luscious–sparky with the apple cider vinegar-red pepper combination and crunchy with the added green apples, shallots, and chard stems.  A nice drizzle of local honey evened out the whole thing.  We ate it with some cold chicken and a slice of German vollkornbrot (whole grain bread) with a bit of sharp cheese.

Once in a while, just for grins, I write a recipe using only photographs and captions.  This is so simple, let’s see if I can accomplish it:

vinegar-chard with apples, shallots, and honey
 makes 4 small servings

                           Cook’s Note:  Wash chard very thoroughly before preparation.
  

Remove stems from 1 bunch of Swiss chard (1 – 1.5#) and slice thinly.  Set aside.  Roll up chard leaves and slice into 1/2″ pieces.

 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep saute pan over medium heat.  Add pinch crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, and cook one minute.

                

Stir in one minced shallot, reserved chard stems, and 1/2 a chopped Granny Smith apple with skin.
Sprinkle with a generous pinch each of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Let cook a minute or two, stirring,  until a bit softened.

Toss in chopped chard.  Season with a little more salt and pepper.  Stir.
Cook 2-3 minutes until chard wilts.  Stir in 1 tablespoon each apple cider vinegar and honey (or to taste.)  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  (Optional garnish:  finely chopped pecans)

Low in calories and vitamin-dense (C, K, A, B), Swiss chard comes from the same family as beets and is also called silverbeet.  Full of antioxidants, it’s a cancer-fighter and usable in all of the ways you use spinach. A great addition to your shopping cart, saute pan, or soup pot, with its store of various minerals (including iron) it’s also a nutritional powerhouse.  Young chard makes great salad.  Read more here.

If you like this, you might also like this week’s post on my blog, Dinner Place — Cooking for One:

ratatouille-steamed salmon with jasmine rice and spinach

Could have used young, chopped chard.

I blog with a great group of food writers on Fridays as we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients: 

  Read more about Swiss chard this week at these sites:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
Alanna –  http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/
.
Join us:

If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

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two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

Finches have another brood.  Here parent eats while baby waits above at my kitchen window feeder.

Feed me, fast!

Gorgeous Thai eggplants (1.5″) from the St. Paul farmer’s market–used it in the salmon and ratatouille above.

 Sing a new song,
Alyce

38 Power Foods, Week 12 — Sweet Potatoes — Warm Two-Potato Salad with Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette

38 Power Foods, Week 12 — Sweet Potatoes — Warm Two-Potato Salad with Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette

from a June, 2012 post

(A note to my readers:  This blog has been publishing with an odd display and, in an attempt to restore its appearance, I’ve inadvertently deleted all of the comments from this post.  Please accept my apologies and thanks for your lovely comments!  Now on to today’s post….)

Necessity is the mother of invention.
As is a determination to use what’s available in the larder.
Tonight, I had probably half a pound roasted pork loin and a nice dish of my favorite barbeque sauce leftover from a birthday dinner for my friend, Lani.    I had, however, eaten the side that went with it for lunch.  Of course I knew what I was doing, but I love toasted Israeli couscous with vegetables.

If this were in your frig, you’d heat it up for lunch, too.  Along with a nice big shard of parm Lani brought over Friday night as a “coming to dinner” gift.  Yow.

Anyway, when it came time for dinner tonight (and we are eating outside every night now), it was kind of, “Well, I know what half of it is.”  The rest I had to throw my eyes around the kitchen for.  Bad grammar, too.  I spy:

  • sweet potatoes
  • Idaho potatoes
  • shallots
  • fresh tarragon (out the back door)
  • red bell pepper (in the frig)
  • broccoli

And what to with it?  My first idea was to grill the potatoes and make a salad, but I didn’t want to heat the stove long enough for my big cast iron grill.  It was warm.   Dave was busy upstairs; I decided to not have him pull out the big Weber grill outdoors for me.   My 14″ saute pan was on the stove clean from yesterday’s frittata.  A little olive oil, a little chop, and the salad began. Here’s how:

warm two-potato salad with mustard-tarragon vinaigrette                4 serving for a side  (2 for a main course)

  • 2T olive oil 
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 t each  fresh ground black pepper and crushed red pepper
    In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil, salt and peppers over medium heat.  Add:
  • 1 ea:  large Idaho and sweet potato, medium diced (peel sweet potato only) 

Cook, stirring often, until softened but not tender.  Add: 
  • 1 small head of broccoli, trimmed and cut into small florets  (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, small dice
Cook, stirring often, until broocoli browned (not done) and potatoes are tender.  Add:
 
  • 1 shallot (slice half for salad; mince half for vinaigrette)

Cook another two minutes or so until shallot is softened.   Spoon into a large bowl and toss with vinaigrette (recipe below).   Top with

  • 1T fresh lemon juice
  • 2T grated aged Gouda cheese or Parmesan cheese

 Serve warm or at room temperature.

vinaigrette:

Whisk together:  
  • 1/2 large shallot, minced (see above-you’ll use other half with potatoes) 
  • 2T white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 t Dijon mustard
  • 1T minced fresh tarragon (or 1 t dried)
  • pinch salt and pepper

Drizzle in, whisking, until well combined or emulsified:
 
  • 4T olive oil

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Want more great sweet potato ideas?  Check out the other beautiful 38 Healthiest Ingredient bloggers:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
.
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

~~~~~~~~~~~

On my Dinner Place (Cooking for One) blog right now:  

shrimp-quinoa salad with feta and tomatoes:


 Hot nights:  if you skip the quinoa and buy cooked shrimp, this is a no-cook dinner.  Another option is microwave rice.

Sing a new song
Alyce

38 Power Foods, Week 11 — Spinach — B"L"T Risotto

38 Power Foods, Week 11 — Spinach — B"L"T Risotto

Bacon, Spinach (the “L”), and Cherry Tomato Risotto
As a kid, spinach was not my thing.  It was that slimy stuff Popeye ate.  I didn’t care if he was strong.  If I had to eat spinach, I didn’t want to be strong.  I wanted nothing that slid whole cloth out of any can.
My own first child adored spinach.  By then, we’d reached the American culinary stage of  gorgeous gooey-cheesy baked spinach casseroles with crispy crumbled crackers on top.  Enabled by grocery store freezers filled with vegetables year-round, we chopped, mixed, added soup or cheese, and threw stuff into ovens to our heart’s content.  We were eating vegetables, weren’t we?  And we liked anything with cheese or sour cream or dried onion soup mix.

Fast forward to our awakening to spinach as a cold-weather vegetable.  To Fed-Ex produce departments continually full of the dirty stuff.  (Spinach was filthy then and still is if you grow it yourself or buy it at the farmer’s market.)  Press again and see the last few years of  clean “baby” spinach in plastic boxes we don’t know what to do with.  (Whole Foods recycles them, by the way; our own recyclers don’t.) 
However we’ve had spinach, it’s been pretty good for and to us.  Full of iron, vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene and vitamin K, this dark leafy, inexpensive and accessible green is beautiful!
Here spinach is mixed with baby kale for a powerful side.
I eat spinach nearly daily:
Herb-Spinach Egg White Omelet

If I don’t make an egg white omelet, I make salad or have spinach instead of lettuce on a sandwich or..

Alyce’s Tomatoed Cod on Fennel with Sauteed Spinach

 I might pair it with fennel as a side for my fish.

Yesterday, my tomatoes (volunteers left on their own for the summer) were picked by a neighbor and deposited on my back step.  She knew I’d been away; she’s a gardener.

These were volunteers from the yard and driveway.  I left them to see what’d happen over the summer. They took over the side bed.

Hybrids ready to eat; they were pretty tasty!

 Hot on the back porch, the tomato scent wafted dizzily through me when I reached down and picked up the container.  What to do with them besides pop one (ok, three) in my mouth as is?

My larder isn’t full yet; we’ve only been home from Colorado for a couple of days.  I did, however, have bacon in small packages in the freezer (one of my mainstays), rice in the pantry, and spinach (which serves as the L in BLT) in the frig.  Way back in the corner was an old chunk of Parmesan our house sitter hadn’t eaten.  B”L”T Risotto was born.  Need I tell you this was the risotto from heaven? (Neighbor got a bowl, too.) Try it today:

b “l” t risotto

2-3 pieces bacon, chopped into 1″ pieces
1T butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
Pinch crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 cup white wine
4-5 cups chicken stock, low sodium
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves

Set table before you begin.

  1. In a heavy 4 qt saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until nearly crisp and remove to a paper-towel lined plate leaving bacon fat in pot.  Set aside.   Add butter and onion to the saucepan.  Cook 4-5 minutes until onion is softened; add garlic and rice.  Stir in crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.  Stir well to coat rice.  Cook 1 minute or so. 
  2. Add white wine; raise heat a bit.  Cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until wine is absorbed. 
  3.  Add 2 cups warm chicken stock and cook about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until broth is absorbed.   Repeat.  Add last cup of broth (if rice is still too hard to eat–you want it between al dente and fall-apart tender.) Please relax about constantly stirring the risotto.  Pour a glass of wine, turn on the music, and stir only as necessary.
  4.  Stir in tomatoes, Parmesan, spinach, and reserved bacon. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  
  5. Serve hot with steamed green beans or asparagus. (See below.)   Pass black pepper at table. 

I liked a crisp grassy Sancerre with this, but I like a crisp grassy Sancerre with almost anything.  Chardonnay, which is lovely with creamy dishes, would also drink.

    Note re seasonings:  The heat of the crushed red pepper is one that will build in your mouth as you eat the risotto; be careful not to add too much black pepper at the end.

    Cook’s Note:  For ease of preparation, here’s how I do the asparagus or beans in the microwave while the last cup of broth is cooking away in the risotto pan:

    Just 2 minutes for rinsed (no more water) asparagus on high:

    Beans will take a couple of extra minutes unless they’re haricots verts.  Add a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of pepper.

    Sing a new song; eat risotto, too,
    Alyce

    Alyce’s Tortellini Salad Goes to Denver, but Misses Olivia’s Birthday

    Alyce’s Tortellini Salad Goes to Denver, but Misses Olivia’s Birthday

    IMG_7688

    Summer comes and this tortellini salad comes with it.  Just ask my family.
    Full of tender cheese-filled tortellini and lots of chunky vegetables, it’s held together with a brisk mustard vinaigrette and lots of thin slices of sopressata or hard salami.  If I’m going to a family event or a church picnic, I make a big bowl of this salad and bring it along.  In Minnesota, it goes in the cooler and makes its way up north to celebrate Joe’s and Olivia’s birthdays. The original recipe was, I think, from the COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE years ago, but it has changed quite a bit over time.

    I missed Olivia’s birthday this year, but made the salad anyway.  See you soon, I hope!

    Here in Colorado, it travels up I-25 to Denver for a family afternoon by the pool after a visit to a museum.

    This year, Bill made a big hunk of brisket he smoked overnight.  Sean brewed some beer and I made (of course) the tortellini salad.  Occasionally it morphs just a bit; originally it didn’t have many vegetables.  I had to amend that.  The resulting salad is fine for a whole meal, but it’s also a total one-dish side for any barbequed meat.  You know how pasta salad can be pale, insipid, and less than interesting?  Perhaps only filling?  Easily left on the plate at picnics?  That is what this pasta salad is not.   

    Nope, we don’t want to get out of the pool. Even for lunch.
    This is either Cosmo or Gizmo tending bar.  Whichever one, he got no tortellini salad.
    The unveiling of the smoked meat!

    TORTELLINI SALAD FOR OLIVIA’S BIRTHDAY, BILL’S BRISKET, or YOUR SUMMER BASH
    serves 12

    18-20 oz. fresh cheese tortellini (find in refrigerator case)
    2 small zucchini, cut into matchstick size pieces
    1 small yellow squash, ditto
    1 red sweet pepper, ditto
    1 yellow sweet pepper, ditto
    1 green or orange sweet pepper, ditto
    1/4 c minced red onion
    1/4# hard salami, cut into 1/4″ slices  (I like sopressata for this.)
    1/3 c  each fresh basil and parsley, chopped (keep out 1 T for garnish)
    1/2 t dried oregano or Herbes de Provence
    1/2 c freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (keep out 2T for top of dish)
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    3T red wine vinegar
    2T Dijon mustard
    1/3 c Extra-virgin olive oil
    Kosher salt; Freshly-ground Pepper;1/8 t crushed red pepper
    Cherry Tomatoes for garnish

    In 8 qt. stock pot, bring 5-6 qts. well-salted water to boil. Add fresh tortellini and cook about 8 min or according to package directions.
    Meantime, make dressing: In large bowl (or in food processor), whisk together red wine vinegar, garlic and Dijon mustard. Slowly pour in olive oil and whisk until emulsified (creamy and satiny). Add salt and peppers; stir well. Set dressing aside.
    Drain tortellini while still a tad al dente and, while hot in colander, add all zucchini and yellow squash. Stir gently to let heat of pasta cook the squash just a tad. Allow pasta and squash to cool, stirring periodically.
    Add sliced peppers, salami, all but 2 tablespoons parmesan all but 1 tablespoon fresh basil, and the oregano or Herbes de Provence.  Stir gently; tortellini can fall apart easily. Drizzle most of dressing onto salad and combine. (Save some dressing to add right before serving)
    Refrigerate until needed or overnight. To serve, add extra dressing and taste salad for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with reserved basil or parsley, Parmesan cheese, and cherry tomatoes.  (If refrigerated overnight, you’ll definitely need to re-season.)

    Note:  If you have any other vegetables, add them. This version has some fresh, minced broccoli as well as some diced carrots.

    Note:  For vegetarian or vegan option, skip salami and, for vegan, use pasta made without eggs and leave off Parmesan.

    {printable recipe}

    Aunt Carolyn relaxing after lunch.

    Sing a new song; make an old tortellini salad,
    Alyce