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Archive for February, 2008

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Head on over to Once Upon A Feast and join in the 1 year birthday celebration of Presto Pasta Nights. Hats off to Ruth and all the beautiful work she has done coordinating and presenting this delectable collection of pasta recipes. What a great community of pasta lovers she has fostered. Thanks, Ruth, and continued success with PPN. I know I’ll be staying tuned every week!

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This is a recipe modified from Martha Stewart’s cookbook The New Classics. The only alteration I made was to coat the pan with margarine instead of butter. It has a candied orange topping, which I found to be a little too bitter for my taste, despite the candy-ing. The actual cake was delicious, and infused with orange flavor. Perfect for the middle of the winter when the freshest fruits around are citrus. Enjoy!

Orange-almond cake

6 navel oranges

margarine for the pan

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cup finely ground almonds (6 ounces)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs

2 cups sugar

Place whole unpeeled oranges ina large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for about 2 hours (your house will smell heavenly!). Drain and cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 inch springform pan. Halve the cooked oranges and remove any seeds. Place 7 halves in a food processor and pulse until pureed but still chunky (yields about 3 cups). Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs with 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the orange puree until just combined. Stir in the flour mixture, pour into prepared pan.

Bake until the cake is golden brown (about 1 hour). Cool in pan on a wire rack. After about 15 minutes, run a small paring knife around the edge to loosen; let the cake cool completely.

Now for the orange topping. Chop the remaining 5 orange halves into 1/4 inch pieces; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining cup of sugar with 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the chopped oranges to the saucepan and reduce heat to medium. Simmer gently until most of the liquid has evaporated and thickened into a syrup (about 30 minutes, although the book said 15 minutes). Cool completely.

Now time to assemble: remove the cake from the pan and onto a serving platter. Arrange the chopped oranges and any remaining syrup over the top of the cake.

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Here is another outstanding Norene Gilletz recipe, and I strongly doubt there could be any recipes that are not fabulous in this marvelous cookbook, Healthy Helpings. An easy sauce to make, the honey garlic complements the meatballs in the most scrumptious way. Quite possibly an addicting meatball recipe, and it received all thumbs up in my household. Thank you Norene. Enjoy!

Honey Garlic Meatballs

meat mixture:

2 pounds lean ground meat (turkey, chicken, beef, or veal – I used turkey)

1 egg (or 2 egg whites)

salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/3 cup club soda or water (approximately)

1/2 cup bread crumbs or matzo meal

sauce mixture:

1 1/2 cup honey garlic sauce (recipe to follow)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

1 teaspoon sesame oil, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Combine all the ingredients for the meat mixture. Wet your hands lightly, and shape into small meatballs. Arrange them on the baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, until firm.

Heat the honey garlic sauce in a large pot. Dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice, and stir into the simmering sauce. Add the red pepper flakes and sesame oil. When the sauce is thickened, add the meatballs. Simmer partly covered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes about 5 dozen meatballs (depending upon the size you make them).

Honey garlic sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons molasses

6 cloves garlic, crushed

Combine all the ingredients and mix well.

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This is a simple and easy side dish. There are really no measurements; rather, just add seasonings gently and to your liking. Enjoy!

Roasted brussel sprouts

1-2 dozen brussel sprouts, tough end cut off

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place the brussel sprouts in a large bowl, and drizzle the olive oil over them. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper, and mix everything well.

Spread sprouts into baking pan, in a single layer. Place in oven, and roast for about 20 minutes. Stir everything on the pan, and continue roasting for about another 10-15 minutes, until everythin is golden and lightly browned. Serve.

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In Norene Gilletz’ Healthy Helpings is a wonderful little recipe for a quick and easy chinese soup that I only slightly tweaked. It’s big on flavor and dairy-free, too. I highly recommend her cookbook – she’s a practical and inventive cook with wonderful tips and ideas for being creative in the kitchen, in addition to offering some highly tasty and “make-able” recipes. A kitchen idol! Now, go make some soup! Enjoy!

Chinese Chicken & Corn Soup

4 cups chicken broth

2 14-ouce cans of creamed corn

1 cup of diced cooked chicken

2 tablespoons corn starch

2 tablespoons water

1-2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon sesame oil

red pepper flakes, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

2 scallions, chopped (I ran out of these the day I made it, but still with good results!)

In a large pot, combine the broth with the creamed corn and bring to a boil. Add the chicken. Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water, and stir into the boiling broth. Add the soy sauce and simmer uncovered for 4 minutes, until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add the eggs in a thin stream, stirring gently to break into shreds. Stir in the sesam oil and the red pepper flakes. Correct the seasoning, and stir in the scallions. Makes 6 servings.

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The 51st edition of Pasta Presto Night Roundup is now showing at Once Upon A Feast, and wowza, it’s a good one. Some really scrumptious looking recipes there. So much pasta, so little time! Thanks for including me, Ruth, and another great job!

(Don’t miss next week’s edition – it’s the one year anniversary of the Roundup).

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I have fallen in love with biscotti this winter, and they’re so easy to make. After my family “inhaled” my original batch of cherry-walnut biscotti, and then gave rave reviews with my pistachio-apricot biscotti, I thought it was high time to try a new and inviting combo of flavors. The basic recipe stays the same (see the basic recipe here), but the nuts and fruit have been changed. The proportions remain unchanged. Same yummy results. Enjoy blueberry-pecan biscotti!

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5 minute no-knead bread

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Today, I finally made the bread that ate the Internet. Not only was it the first time I made this bread, it was actually the first time I made any bread. With yeast. Oh, sure, I had all the reasons and excuses why yeasted breads were just not for me to make. But this bread is promoted with the lure that it will only take you 5 minutes of actual work to make it. Now, this figure is averaged out, because the recipe makes enough for 4 loaves of bread, so your actual work time comes out to only 5 minutes per.

 It was really quite easy. Three simple ingredients, plus water. I don’t think they could have simplified it any more for me. It was painless, idiot-proof, and, quite honestly, a delicious bread. While it lasted. Imagine having warm artisan bread fresh out of the oven, right in your very kitchen, for your adulant fans (or/or family, whatever the case may be). Try this bread; you will like it. After I use up this batch, I shall start experimenting with some variations. Fun. Enjoy.

5 minute no-knead bread, by Jeff Hertzberg

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough

Cornmeal

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Yield: 4 loaves.

Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.

Note: I did not use a stone; I placed my dough onto parchment paper sprinkled with the cornmeal, then carefully placed the parchment and loaf in the oven on a baking pan that had been preheated for 5 minutes at 450 degrees F.

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I happened upon this package of Harvest Grain Blends at the Trader Joe’s near me. It looked like such an interesting blend of grains – Israeli couscous, red and green orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. I had to buy it and make something with it. What I came up with was what I am calling Harvest CousCous. Yes, it tastes as good as it looks. I added some leftover chicken, but it could just as easily be made vegetarian and still be an incredibly delicious meal. The textures and flavors are almost addicting, and I think you could easily substitute any of your favorite vegetables. Enjoy!

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Harvest couscous

1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1″ chunks

2 tablespoons olive oil

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

3 shallots, chopped

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1 quart broth (chicken or vegetable)

1 16-ounce package Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend grains (see note)

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

cut-up leftover chicken (optional)

[Note: if you do not have access to a Trader Joe’s, I think this recipe would work just fine with a mix of favorite grains. You could include Israeli couscous, and add some other that you like – wheatberries, kasha, quinoa]

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash in a single layer on a baking pan, and roast in oven for approximately 30 minutes, turning once or twice to evenly brown.

While the squash is cooking, saute the shallots in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large cooking pot until golden. Add the coriander, cumin, and paprika. Stir, then add the broth, and the bay leaf and thyme, and stir again. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 6 – 10 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Add the raisins, almonds, roasted squash, and optional chicken. Combine everything, cooking for about 1 more minute, and serve. Makes 6 servings.

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I just love roasted vegetables. Roasting develops each vegetable’s essence, and softens and mellows it. What better combination than to add roasted vegetables to a soup? Today, I made an Italian-influenced soup with some of my favorite roasted vegetables, but you could substitute for your own personal favorites. It’s so much fun to experiment in the kitchen. Enjoy!

Italian roasted veggie soup

1 large cauliflower, cut into flowerettes

1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges

4 cloves garlic

1 large bell pepper (any color), cut into chunks

2 tablespoons olive oil

coarse salt, freshly ground pepper

1 quart broth (vegetable or chicken)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 cups fresh basil, sliced or chopped

1/2 marjoram

1 28-ounce can of whole plum tomatoes, drained

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix the cauliflower, onion, garlic, and pepper with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto a large baking pan in a single layer, and roast for about 30-40 minutes, stirring twice, until everything is nicely browned.

Meanwhile, place the rest of your ingredients into a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and partially cover. Add the roasted vegetables when they are done, and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. Correct the seasonings, if needed, and serve. Makes 6 servings.

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