If you're entertaining and need something green to snack upon, here are some lovely and simple spreads to put out with carrots or crackers of your choice. Radishes offer a gorgeous color contrast to these verdant springtime dips.
Homemade dips and spread are great make-ahead appetizers. Any leftovers are perfect for vegetarian sandwiches. I love how these dips have variations of green color.
Our friend Becky of The Organic Dish in Boulder shared her green pea hummus with us a while back. Kimberly has made Becky's recipe with 1/2 green peas and 1/2 edamame and happily reports that it was super yummy. I have also made it with fresh mint and no tahini with equally refreshing, delicious results.
This lima bean skordalia was inspired by one I bought at Market Hall in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, CA. Like the green pea hummus, it's easy to make and yummy. Fava bean puree takes a bit more time as you need to shell the fava beans.
Lima Bean "Skordalia" with Feta
1 bag frozen lima beans
Juice from 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp., more to taste)
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp freshly chopped oregano
4 to 6 Tlbs. best quality EVVO
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces Feta cheese (I recommend a French Sheep's Feta), crumbled
Cover the lima beans,and 4 cloves of garlic with water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let limas cool in the water.
Strain off the water, reserving at least 1/2 a cup for adding to the puree later. Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor.
Add the garlic, oregano, lemon juice and the EVVO. Process until smooth, adding some of the hot water to make the puree smooth. Remove to your serving dish and stir in the crumbled feta. Season with salt and pepper.
Fava Beans Puree
This recipe is adapted from the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. This puree has always been a harbinger of summer for me. Fava beans are very earthy, do not try and make this with the canned variety. You will be disappointed.
2 lbs. fresh fava beans, parboiled, cooled in iced water and shelled
Splash of dry white wine
1 small leek, white part sliced very thinly
1/4 cup EVVO (preferably a different one from the lima bean skordalia, something fruity like Puget from France.
2 cloves garlic
1/4 of a bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pan under medium to low heat, add the leek and cook until soft. Add the minced garlic and fresh thyme and bay leaf. Now add the shelled fava beans and splash of white wine.
Once you can smash the favas with the back of a spoon easily, remove from heat. You can now either smash the mixture with the implement of your choice or remove the bay leaf and place the beans in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Adjust seasoning and serve.
The idea for these brownies came from Martha Stewart's Cookies Cookbook. I did not care for the texture of the brownie in that recipe as it was far too cake like, so like flavoristas tend to do, I came up with my own version.
Then I stumbled upon the BEST brownie mix ever – Ghiardelli's Double Chocolate. I like my brownies ooey and almost gooey and this mix delivers. They actually come out as pictured on the box. Lucky for me they sell it in bulk at Costco here in Boulder. I highly recommend that you have this in your pantry as they are quite simply delcicious.
The peanut butter topping does come from the Martha's book but I adapted it for these brownies. If you like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, these are for you.
Peanut Butter Swirl
I haven't tried it yet, but this filling might also be good as a sandwich cookie filling, think homemade nutter butters.
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I prefer chunky but the kids don't)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. salt coarse sea salt
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
Make the brownies according to the recipe on the box and pour into your prepared brownie pan.
For the peanut butter swirls, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
Using a spoon, (or as I prefer a small 1 oz. ice cream scoop), place dollops of the peanut butter just on top of the batter. Using a sharp small knife, place the tip in the center of one of the peanut butter dollops. Now carefully fan the peanut butter out into the batter. Do this on each dollop making longish type swirlies (as pictured above).
Bake for the time as indicated on the brownie box for the pan size you use. I like to use the larger sizes brownie pan as the peanut butter doesn't spread but sets up where it is on the brownie. The brownie batter also tends to rise up around the peanut butter.
It doesn't hurt to sprinkle a few chocolate chips over the top as well.
First let me just say that I absolutely love Molly O’Neill’s new book One Big Table. In her words, "I was on a mission to dispel the rumor that Americans don’t cook." After 10 years of zipping around the country, she compiled all these incredible recipes and anecdotes from and from die-hard cooking Americans.
If you need to purchase a cookbook this year, let this be the one as you will given a host of incredibly unique and interesting recipes from people who love to cook and love their heritage.
"A portrait of American Cooking" says it all but what you won’t find in here are recipes from celebrity chefs. There are a few but mostly there are ingenious recipes from people all over the country. Some recipes and techniques are handed down from years ago and others a wonderful marriage of two cultures coming together to create their own heritage.
How Molly achieved this is a wonder. Here are some of the recipes I will serving at our big table here in Boulder:
John Newman’s Abelskivers (Tooele, Utah)
Bill McIntyre’s Marinated Feta (Corydon, Indiana)
Roopa Unnikrishnan’s Cucumerb Pudina Sandwiches (New York, New York)
Grandmother Ojeda’s Toasted Pasilla Chile & Sunflower Seed Salsa (San Diego, CA)
Veronique Nguyen’s Cold & Frothy Fresh Pea Soup (Vail, Colorado)
Gina Caldrone Tsonga’s Fennel Slaw with Orange, Cumin and Chilies (Scottsdale, AZ)
Paulo’s Monkfish Moqueca (Martha’s Vineyard, MA)
Tia Rosa and Ruth Eichneer’s Sweet-n-Sour Carrots (Middlebury, VT)
Big Mama’s Whipping Cream Pound Cake (Clarke County, Alabama)
Gaynelle Tillet’s Fig Cake (Ocracoke, North Carolina)
That’s just to name a few. I’ll be sure to post the results -but it might take some time. Did I mention it’s a BIG book? Her blog is fabulously written so I advise you to check it out.
While this is not a quick recipe, it is certainly an old favorite from the original Greens cookbook by "vegetarianista" Deborah Madison. This is a perfect vegetarian dinner, especially for a large group on a warm summer night.
Basically this roulade is a flat, filled souffle. You can fill it with anything you like, but I feel that less is more with a roulade.
This one was filled with drained ricotta cheese and pesto and the topped with a very simple salsa of fresh vine ripened tomatoes, some fresh chopped garlic and basil, a little EVVO and salt and pepper. Served alongside chard (stay tuned for recipe) and Israeli couscous with peas, our group of 12 had plenty to feast on.
For the Roulade:
10 eggs at room temperature
5 cups of milk
1/2 tsp nutmeg
8 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put a few dabs of butter on the pan to help anchor the paper in. Lightly butter and flour the paper, knocking off any excess flour.
Separate the yolks and the whites; lighty beat the yolks and set them aside. Heat the milk and make the roux by melting the butter, add the flour, and, stirring cook for 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat until the roux is lightly colored.
Add the heated milk, and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly; then remove from the heat and season with 1 teaspoon salt and the nutmeg. Gradually whisk some of the hot mixture into the yolks to warm them; then return to the pan and combine with the rest of the roux.
In a large bowl, whisk or beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until smooth firm peaks form. Stir about a quarter of the whites and half the grated cheese and the milk-egg yolk mixture; then gently fold in the rest of the whites. Pour the whole mixture onto the baking sheet, spread it to fill all the comers, and sprinkle rest of the cheese over the surface. Bake until the top is nicely browned and puffed, about 15 minutes.
Remove the souffle from the oven and let it cool. Carefully turn it out onto a large flat cutting board, with a tea towel on it, by turning over the pan. Remove the paper. It is now ready to be filled and rolled.
Filling: If you’d like an extra punch of basil, scatter a few whole leaves over the ricotta mixture before rolling the roulade.
Place the drained ricotta into a bowl and stir in the pesto. Season with salt and pepper.
Assembling the Roulade:
With the long side of the roulade facing you, spread the ricotta/pesto mixture across 2/3 of the roulade. Using the towel gently guide the the roulade into a log form. If possible, take the whole cutting board and place it into your refrigerator and let the roulade sit for about 20 minutes.
Otherwise, you can cut the roulade in half and place it on to 2 smaller plates and refrigerate. You can assemble the salsa a this point. Remove the roulade from the refrigerator and slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Arrange on a serving platter or directly onto your dinner plates, top with the salsa and enjoy!
When I read this post on food52, I knew that the mint syrup portion of the limeade would be making an appearance at my house over the summer. Might it be possible to make a mojito-like cocktail without muddling? Mint Juleps also quickly came to mind.
I am happy to report yeses on the cocktail front, but wait there’s more! The original mint limeade is ultra-refreshing and not cloyingly sweet. The mint syrup is also a superlative sweetener for classic iced tea.
For mint juleps without muddling, make the mint syrup (recipe below). Mix together 1 cup of good quality bourbon and 1/4 cup of the mint syrup. Pour over shaved iced and if desired garnish with fresh mint. This makes about 6 drinks. The mixture can be refrigerated for an otherwise fussy cocktail at the ready. We don’t suggest you wait until the Kentucky Derby and do feel free to don a fancy hat.
In addition to tipples, this mint syrup can be drizzled over cut fruit and/or berries for a Four Seasons, fancy pants fruit salad. If I were a better planner, I would have saved a sprig of fresh mint for the photo above. Just the tiniest bit of syrup is needed to accent an otherwise everyday dish of fruit.
This was another delectable meal that I made from How to Roast a Lamb, by Michael Psilakis- chef of Anthos in New York. It was listed in the book as a recipe for fried Red Mullet with Lentils, Lemon and Dill. I was intrigued by the lentil recipe as it called for red wine and sherry vinegar.
Grilled swordfish subbed in for the red mullet and it was perfect. The star of the meal was the sauce, ladolemono, which would also be delicious on salmon. We enjoyed the fish and lentils alongside a beautiful Greek-style salad of peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and oregano. Simple, elegant and so good.
Ladolemono-adpated from How to Roast a Lamb
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Greek oregano
1/2 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a bowl, except the olive oil. Slowly whisk the oil into the mixture. You can marinate the swordfish in a bit of the dressing for a few minutes before grilling. Serve the rest on top of each piece of fish. I placed the lentils on a platter, put all the fish on top and then spooned some of the sauce on top and served it family-style.
How to Roast a Lamb is written by chef and restauranteur Michael Psilakis of New York. I saw him in the fall on the Martha Stewart Show and decided that this was a book worth purchasing. As I mentioned before, I really don’t care for the title, but the contents deliver excellent meals. I took a few liberties with his recipe.
I am now fully committed to cooking beans in clay pots. It takes a bit more work, but the results are superb every time.
With the strange warm weather I am being seduced into thinking that we are through with winter. Spring just might be around the corner so here is a lovely menu for all those inclined to defy the groundhog. I loved the white gigantes beans as they are impressive, toothsome and tasty.
The first night I served the fasolada with a very simple roasted boneless leg of lamb with a pomegrante dried cherry reduction. We had leftover white beans and I served it as a soup with a fresh gremolata (recipe below) and feta cheese on top. It was outstanding in both presentations. This soup has just the right notes of herbs, onions and creamy beans.
1 lb dried cannellini beans or white gigantes, soaked overnight
2 Tbsp. canola oil or olive oil
1 large parsnip, peeled, woody interior stem removed, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 large fennel bulb, diced
1 white onion, diced
2 bay leaves
4 large sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
1 leek, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Warm the oil in a large heavy bottomed pot. Add all the vegetables, except for the leek, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine and allow to evaporate.
Add the beans, leeks, bay leaves, thyme and stir to incorporate. Now transfer the contents into the clay pot. Pour in the water to cover the beans by 1 1/2 inches and bring to a boil on the stove. Cover and transfer to a preheated 350 degree oven. Cook for about 2 hours, checking the beans after about 1 1/2 hours.
When beans are tender, remove from the oven. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the lemon juice. and chopped garlic. Take out about 2 cups of the soup and puree in a blender or in a food processor until smooth. Stir the pureed soup back into the pot. Cover and allow to cool, or place back into the oven with the heat off until you are ready to serve.
Gremolata -This is traditionally used on top of Osso Buco. I’ve started to use it on so many things from grilled fish to beans soups.
1/2 cup freshly chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 1/2 Tbsp. lemon zest
Place all the minced/chopped ingredients together and toss together well. Serve a heaping Tbsp. on top of each bowl of soup.
Flavorista Scott turned me onto this book. WOW, what a find! Andrea Nguyen regularly contributes to Saveur. Her articles are engaging and informed. Typically, I want to run out to the market to try at least one of her featured recipes.
If dumplings happen to be your thing, this book is certainly for you. Flavorista Scott is cooking his way through this book with one or two different dumplings a week. This has been on-going for a while and he is yet to report a less than excellent batch of dumplings. I need to score an invite to dumpling night!
With 75 color photos and clear instructions, this book could inspire even a dumpling-hesitant cook. The family aspect of preparing dumplings together really makes the meal something special and I swear Lollie is a more adept dumpling maker than me, hands down.
Andrea has several "How To" videos on You Tube. Click on the video below to check it out.
For Andrea’s website/blog devoted to Vietnamese cooking, click here.
For the Asian Dumpling website/blog, click here.
Family friends of ours, the Scottos, have a terrific restaurant in New York called Fresco By Scotto. They are regular guests on The Today Show and a recent segment reminded me how much I love their first cookbook, Fresco. If you are in NYC make Fresco a destination. Marion is an amazing, gracious host and the food is wonderful too.
Hands down, this is my favorite recipe from the Fresco cookbook. With a cup a soup and a salad it makes a perfect winter meal. I have offered a vegetarian option at the end of the original recipe.
Sausage and Leek Tart with a Fennel Crust Makes one 10 to 11-inch tart
Fennel Tart Dough 2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup of butter, cut into cubes and chilled
1 Tbsp. fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Place the flour, butter, fennel seeds and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse 10 times or until the mixture resembles crumbs. In a smaller bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp. of water with the eggs.
With the food processor running, add the egg mixture through the feeding tube. Pulse 8 tie or just until the dough comes together. Remove from the bowl, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about one hour. Let the dough stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before rolling it out and fitting it into your favorite tart pan.
Time Saver: If you find that you like this crust, double the recipe and freeze one ball of dough for future use.
Filling: 2 large onions or 2 lbs. leeks, sliced thinly
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 lb. shredded Fontina cheese (or Gruyere)
12 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick and drained on paper towels (I used large cherry tomatoes as could not find any good plum tomatoes. I used 1 pint but 2 would have been better.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet and cook sausage for 7 minutes. Break up the meat while it cooks. Drain and set aside. Discard the fat. Heat remaining oil and saute the onions until they get nice and soft. Add the garlic and cook for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and allow to cool
Combine the eggs and cream and mix well. Add the parsley. Set aside.
Spread the onions or leeks over the tart shell bottom. Spread the sausage meat on top. Cover the meat with the cheese. Now place the tomatoes on top in a nice pattern, layering them just so they overlap slightly. Carefully pour the egg mixtue over. Place tart pan onto a cookie sheet and bake for 50 minutes. Let the tart cool slightly before you cut it to serve.
I decided to make this tart vegetarian as we are trying to cut back on our meat consumption 3 to 4 nights a week. So instead of the sausages and heavy cream, I used 1 cup ricotta cheese with about 1/4 cup freshly chopped basil. It worked great, but I confess to preferring the one with sausage better!
While I do not think this is a great name for this cookbook, I bought it anyway after watching its author on the Martha Stewart’s show. Indeed, this book was well worth its purchase price.
When I buy a new cookbook, (and believe me, I agonize over which ones to buy because I already have a tower of books that represents 25 years of collecting) I have this somewhat obsessive habit of marking the pages of the recipes I want to try. I can’t tell you why I do this, I just do.
As you can see by the picture below of How to Roast a Lamb, which is written by Michael Psilakis, a founding partner in Anthos in New York, there are quite a few recipes I am dying to recreate. The book is simply beautiful. With more than four establishments in New York and one in Miami, Psilakis knows a thing or two about writing a recipe and runnning a restaurant.
After first devouring this book and reading some of the wonderful stories, I marked 22 recipes that I will be trying this year. These are not just lamb recipes, there is something for everyone and he offers some great staples like garlic confit.
All the mezes, or small dishes, look and sound amazing. His Greek salad is a thing of art. The whole roasted fish is the next dish I will prepare for a large dinner party. Stay tuned for more as I work my way through Psilakis’ Greek inspired recipes.
Click here to watch a video of Psilakis making his artful Greek salad with Martha on her show.