Monday, November 14, 2022

Recipe-in-a-Flash: Potsticker Soup!



This truly is a “recipe-in-a-flash” because most of it comes from ready-to-go ingredients. The recipe is from Trader Joe’s but other than the Gyoza Potstickers, you can get almost all the other components at any store. The recipe serves six, but freezes very well (without the potstickers) so you can do as I did and pack it up in freezer containers for easy dinners in the future. 


The soup is rich, full of veggies (courtesy of fresh spinach and a mirepoix), and oh-so satisfying. The delicious Trader Joe’s gyoza are available in vegetable, chicken, or pork (I chose chicken), and can be pan fried in just about 10 minutes. Then you just add them to the soup (of course, you could eat them on their own as a great, little appetizer, drizzled with a splash of soy sauce). 


After plating the soup, and adding the potstickers, garnish with cilantro and a dollop of crunchy chili onion (or another hot sauce). It really is a terrific weekday dinner or lunch.


Trader Joe’s Potsticker Soup


Ingredients:


TJ’s imported olive oil

1 package TJ’s Gyoza potstickers

1 container TJ’s mirepoix (or your own mixture)

2 packages TJ’s chicken broth

1 bag baby spinach

1 TB soy sauce

1 TB toasted sesame oil

Handful of chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

TJ’s crunch chili onion, or your favorite hot sauce


Directions:

  1. Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with oil (about 2-3 TB) and lightly fry the potstickers over medium-high heat until nicely browned on both sides, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat 2 TB olive oil. Add mirepoix and saute until onions appear translucent. Add broth and bring to a slow simmer. When the soup gets some energy, toss in the spinach and stir in soy sauce and sesame oil.
  3. When the soup is officially simmering, add the potstickers. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro and a heaping spoonful of chili onion crunch or hot sauce.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Pumpkin "Pillow" Cookies


It’s that time again. When every store, restaurant, even gas stations, start pushing pumpkin spice. The aroma of the quintessential fall flavors (cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice) evoke images of cozy nights in front of a warming fireplace, wearing our favorite sweater or hoodie. And who am I to argue with this annual phenomenon? Even though it’s currently 73 degrees and sunny, I am ready for fall baking. Instead of the yearly publishing of my all-time favorite pumpkin bread, I opted for something a bit more portable - a cookie! 


The title of this recipe, from the NY Times cooking site, is pumpkin cookies, but it should really be officially re-named pumpkin “pillows.” These are like little clouds of deliciousness, bursting with those requisite autumn flavors. These have a hefty two teaspoons of ground ginger, giving them a nice bite. The recipe calls for a sprinkle of sanding sugar before baking, but I didn’t have any so I used regular granulated sugar, but next time (yes, these are so good there will be a next time) I will use the sanding sugar for added texture.


They are not the prettiest cookies  (reminding me of the Italian cookie, “brutti ma buoni,” which translates to ugly, but good), but when a cookie is this good, who cares what it looks like?! Seriously, make these cookies for all your fall get-togethers.


Pumpkin Cookies


Ingredients:


1-1/2 C AP flour

2 t ground ginger

1-1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t ground nutmeg

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t kosher salt

8 TB unsalted butter, at room temp

1 C packed light or dark brown sugar

1 large egg, at room temp

3/4 C pumpkin puree

1 t vanilla extract

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)


Preparation:


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract until blended.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat just until combined.
  5. Scoop the batter into 2-tablespoon scoops, at least 1 inch apart, onto the prepared sheets. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake one sheet at a time until the cookies are puffed, set and spring back when gently pressed in the center, about 12 minutes. Repeat with second sheet.
  6. Transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.


Because these cookies are moist, it’s best to store them between parchment or wax paper in an airtight container at room temp. You could also freeze them and thaw before serving.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Recipe-in-a-Flash: Pan-Roasted Green Beans with Golden Almonds


This might not be the most summery-type recipe, but I was recently gifted some beautiful, just-picked green beans and didn’t want to just throw them in the oven with the usual suspects of salt, pepper, & EVOO. The ever-reliable NYT Cooking site came to the rescue with this terrific recipe. It’s a bit more work but worth it. Charring the beans gives it a delicious smokiness, and the melding of shallots, parsley, and lemon plays perfectly with the beans.


I served it alongside fresh Sockeye salmon that I pan-seared with a sprinkle of Paradise Powder from the wonderful Paradise Seafood Market on Marco Island, chased down with a crisp white wine from Sicily.



If you’ve got green beans in your summer garden, try it. The recipe says the almond-shallot topping will work with just about any vegetable so you may want to think about this for your Thanksgiving table.



Pan-Roasted Green Beans with Golden Almonds (NYT Cooking)

4 Servings


Ingredients:


Kosher salt

8 oz green beans and/or wax beans, trimmed

1/4 C blanched whole almonds, coarsely chopped

3 TB EVOO, plus more as needed

1 large shallot, minced

1 TB fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced

1 lemon

Freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add salt (a teaspoon or so, or to taste). Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until bright green but still firm, about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice water. When cool, drain again. Pat dry with paper towels until completely dry.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the almonds and the oil, adding more oil if needed to just cover the almonds. Cook over medium heat until the almonds are golden, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the shallot. It will cook in the residual heat.
  3. Coat a large skillet with oil. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the beans and season with salt. Cook, tossing frequently, until charred dark brown in spots and tender-crisp, about 7 minutes.
  4. Top with the almond mixture, then the parsley. Grate the zest from a quarter of the lemon directly over the beans, then cut the lemon into wedges for serving. Season with pepper and serve.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Blueberry Schlumpf

 

Photo credit: LK

Wow! Wow! Wow! Not hyperbole. This recipe is a WOW! From Food52, a recipe from Marian Bull, who got it from a distant relative, this should be your go-to summer dessert recipe.


The recipe calls for wild blueberries, but unless you live in Maine, or somewhere else where wild blueberries are widely available, regular blueberries will do fine. I made this with incredible New Jersey blueberries picked up at my local farmer’s market - huge, plump, sweet - and I think it really made the dish.


It couldn’t be easier. Combine the blueberries with a bit of flour and sugar; dump in a baking dish. Then mix the topping together, sprinkle over the blueberry mixture, and bake.


Serve warm from the oven with a scoop of “good” vanilla ice cream (I used Häagen-Dazs). The “yummy” sounds around the table told me this recipe was definitely a winner. Even without ice cream, which is how I ate it the next day, it was outstanding.



Blueberry Schlumpf

(Food52)


Makes one 8x8” pan.


Filling:


1 qt wild blueberries (conventional will do)

2 TB flour

2 TB sugar


Topping:


1 C flour

1/2 C brown sugar

1/2 C cold butter, cut into pieces


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix the filling ingredients and put in 8x8” baking dish.
  3. Mix the topping roughly (so that it’s still lumpy) and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot, preferably with vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Recipe-in-a-Flash: La Flordita Daiquiri!



Happy Sunday, friends! I hope you are well and enjoying a restful day.


I happened upon this recipe in an e-mail from one of my favorite magazines, Garden and Gun. It sounded like the perfect summer cocktail and since I had all the fixins’ in-house, I whipped it up. Wow! I was right, this is the perfect summer cocktail - delicious, icy, pretty, and just boozy enough! I give you the La Flordita Daiquiri!


Recipe makes one fabulous cocktail:


Ingredients:


2 oz Cuban rum

1 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur*

2 TB refined sugar

1-1/2 C crushed ice

1 slice lime

1 Luxardo maraschino cherry


Directions:


Place the first five ingredients in a blender. Blend at high speed for 20 seconds. Pour into a coupe or short highball glass. Garnish with lime slice and Luxardo cherry. 


*Do NOT confuse Luxardo cherries with the horrible red dye maraschino cherries of the 60s and 70s. No, no - these are made in Italy and are a dream, especially after your drink is gone and you eat the alcohol-soaked cherry - deluxe! If you are a serious cocktail maven, Luxardo cherries should be on your bar cart (they are terrific, by the way, in a classic whiskey sour).










Sunday, May 29, 2022

Baking Zen, When We All Need It Most…


I have always found happiness in baking. I’ve also found comfort, solace, and a sort of zen in the familiar movements (measuring, kneading, rolling) of baking. It’s something primarily done alone, just with your thoughts or perhaps with your favorite music in the background. And then, of course, there is that moment when you take the cake (muffin, cookie, whatever) out of the oven and taste it. It could be an entirely new taste from something you’ve never made before. Or it could be a memory taste, from your childhood, or from a trip you took. Either way, it’s wonderful. And I always find joy in sharing my baked goods (I subscribe to the Dorie Greenspan theory of “bake and release.”).


This past week I felt the need to bake after hearing about the second mass shooting in our country in less than a week. I know you come to this blog for food-related stories, so I will not stray too far from that focus today. But I must say that when it is legal for an eighteen year old to buy a gun but not to buy cigarettes or alcohol, there is something seriously wrong with our country’s morals. So if you care about your children being able to sit in a classroom without fear, or for anyone to go grocery shopping, or go to a house of worship without fear of being gunned down, write/call/visit your elected representatives and beg them to vote for sensible, meaningful gun control. Thank you.


Have some very ripe bananas hanging around your fruit bowl? Make these muffins! They are deliciously moist and tender with a terrific cinnamon-crumb topping. I made them just as the recipe outlines, but next time I might add some chopped walnuts to the crumb topping for a little more texture. But they are absolutely wonderful as is. You may want to bake some this weekend to share with friends or family in need of a little baking love. We can all use it right about now.




Banana Crumb Muffins (King Arthur Flour)


Topping:


1/2 C AP flour

1/4 C sugar

1 t cinnamon

4 TB (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp*


Muffins:


1-1/2 C AP flour

1 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

3 large, ripe bananas, mashed

3/4 C sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/3 C butter, melted*


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. For the topping, in a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add butter and mix with a fork or pastry cutter until crumbly. Put aside while preparing muffin batter.
  3. For muffins, in large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, combine mashed bananas, sugar, slightly beaten egg, and melted butter. Mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  5. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full (do not use paper muffin cups). Using hands, arrange coarse, pea-sized crumbs over muffin batter.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until muffins test done with a cake tester. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to wire rack.


*The original recipe calls for butter or margarine, so feel free to use margarine if you prefer.


Monday, May 9, 2022

Recipe-in-a-Flash: Spinach and Feta Bowtie Pasta


Here’s a terrific weeknight recipe you can toss together in about 30 minutes. The combination of the salty feta cheese and the bright lemon zest hit just the right notes. The recipe calls for chopped fresh dill but I didn’t have any and didn’t feel like making another supermarket run; it was an excellent dish regardless but I’m sure the anise-like flavor of dill would add another level of deliciousness. I loved this dish so much I made it two nights in a row!


As the recipe from The Washington Post mentions, you could throw in some sliced, grilled boneless chicken breast or cooked chickpeas to add protein. 



I enjoyed it with a recently discovered New Zealand sauvignon blanc, Sea Pearl. Highly recommend if you can find it. It’s light and refreshing, with a bit of tart citrus-lemony notes. At an average price of $12-14, this will be a great everyday summer wine.




Spinach and Feta Bowtie Pasta (The Washington Post Nourish column)


Serves 4


Ingredients:


Fine salt

8 oz dried bowtie (farfalle) pasta

1 TB olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced or finely grated

12 oz baby spinach, rinsed

2 TB chopped fresh dill

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 1 TB)

3/4 C (3 oz) finely crumbled feta cheese

Freshly ground black pepper


Directions:


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.


Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook, stirring once or twice, until the garlic is soft but not browned, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach, in batches if necessary, stirring as needed. Cover and cook just until the spinach wilts, for 2-3 minutes. Uncover and increase the heat as needed to cook off/evaporate any accumulated liquid in pan.


Transfer the spinach to the bowl with the pasta. Add the dill, lemon zest, and feta cheese and toss to mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve right away or at room temperature. 


Storage notes: refrigerate for up to three days.