I hope you are having a lovely holiday season! Hubs and I are so enjoying being with all the kids. There is truly nothing better. Once the kids leave, you relish any time you spend with them! We had the best visit with my family on Long Island and now we are in Utah with Hubs’s family. I will pray for good snow but mild temps! I’m such a wimp. If you want a super impressive and delicious main dish for a night in or for a New Year’s dinner, I have you covered. I served this Mushroom Wellington at a dinner party last year, and I couldn’t believe how everyone went crazy for it – even the carnivores!Continue reading
We all love roasted vegetables. They taste delicious and they’re easy. But for the holidays or entertaining, it’s nice to add a little something extra to basic roasted vegetables. How about grapes?? Trust me on this one. They’re not quite expected, but they’re like sweet little juicy nuggets that enhance bitter vegetables like Brussels sprouts. I am on a mission to get people to love vegetables and eat more of them. And this recipe is a winner!Continue reading
I made this cake once to bring a friend’s house for dinner and people were stealing each other’s crumbs. I served it to my family and my son spit it out. Just being honest. It would be really awesome to say that my family loves everything I make, that my 10-year-old scarfs down whole grain cakes with rosemary and dark chocolate and never, ever, ever asks for Flaming Hot Cheetos. But alas, I live in the real world with at least one child, as well as one adult, whose palates are rather, shall we say, simple.
But if I catered to the lowest common denominator in my house all the time, we’d never get to know the deliciousness that is this nutty, earthy, lightly sweet cake with a savory infusion of rosemary. And dark chocolate! Maybe it sounds like a weird combo to you. I actually wasn’t sure myself when I first whisked these ingredients together, but the scent emanating from my oven was enough to convince me that this is a very tasty cake.
I love rustic desserts. The flavors are deep and I don’t have to worry about anything looking too perfect. And I think anything rustic lends itself better to whole grain flours. I found this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce. She uses refined flours and refined white sugar, but I actually think the cake tastes better and more interesting with whole spelt and whole wheat pastry flour, and sweetened with maple syrup. I also don’t find myself in a sugar coma after eating a piece of this.
I mentioned that I have made this cake for after dinner, but I think it would also be lovely for a brunch. Sweet and savory all in one easy-to-bake cake. Maybe with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Love it. No thanks, Mr. Picky? No problem. More for me!
Whole Grain Olive Oil Cake with Rosemary and Dark Chocolate Recipe
1 cup unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil + extra for greasing pan
¾ cup whole spelt flour (or use all purpose)
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
¾ cup Grade A maple syrup or natural cane sugar*
1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
¾ teaspoon sea salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup whole milk or unsweetened hemp milk, at room temperature
1 ½ Tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped (measure, then chop)
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped into ½-inch pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil.
Whisk the dry ingredients (including cane sugar, if using) in a large bowl. Set aside.
In another large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the maple syrup (if using), olive oil, milk and rosemary and whisk again.
Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry, gently mixing until combined. Stir in chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading evenly and smoothing the top.
Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until the top is domed, golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake can be eaten warm or cool from the pan, or cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic, and kept for 2 days.
*If using cane sugar, add with the dry ingredients. If using maple syrup, add with the wet ingredients.
Everyone thinks it’s so funny when I whine that I don’t get invited much to peoples’ houses for dinner. There is an assumption that I’m an accomplished chef and I must have such high standards for eating therefore it’s too intimidating to have me over for dinner. Ha! Nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m a home cook who never went to culinary school and I don’t ever make recipes with three sauces. I could never work in a restaurant or hotel or be on one of those shows where you have to figure out what to do with octopus and cornflakes in 20 minutes. Just for the record, I love simple food. I don’t need anything fancy or chef-y. I am very easy to please as long as it’s fresh and natural. And I’ll bet that you are as good a cook, if not better than I am. Anyone can have a food blog, friends!
What I do love is sharing recipes that work for me, because I think we’re a lot alike. And it makes me happy if more people are cooking at home, even if I’m not invited. Wink, wink. These roasted smashed potatoes are my favorite kind of recipe — uncomplicated, tasty, easy and healthful. They go with whatever I’m serving and every single person in my family loves them. If you’ve never made smashed potatoes, you are totally missing out. They’re both fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside and if you add enough salt, damn delicious. I could just eat a half dozen of these and some scrambled eggs and call it a night. If you invited me over for dinner and made these potatoes with scrambled eggs, I would be in heaven. Yep, that’s all it takes.
The other night at our dinner table, there were several ways to eat these. My husband makes up for my dairy abstinence by melting cheese on everything, including these potatoes. Mr. Picky dipped his in mustard and Daughter #2 topped hers with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Daughter #1 and I ate these plain and simple. I’m going to start teaching the little miss how to make easy recipes like this because she’ll be off to college before I know it. Sigh. Wait, what am I talking about? Yippee!
These are divine out of the oven, but I don’t love potatoes reheated. To do some of the work ahead of time, boil the potatoes and refrigerate them. Then, smash them and roast them to crispy perfection. What is great is that you’ll use the whole potato, since most of the nutrients are in the skin or just underneath the skin. And if you follow the Body Ecology Diet, red new potatoes are the only potatoes permitted since they have the fewest sugars of any potato. Just an FYI. Of course, most of you are not on the Body Ecology Diet, so use whatever baby potatoes you can get your hands on, like Yukon Golds.
When I taught in France last year, I did some roasted potatoes in duck fat, which I know doesn’t sound healthful, but to be honest, I think animal fats can be good to cook with at high temperatures, unless you’re a vegetarian. Unsaturated fats (vegetable oils) can oxidize at high temperatures (above 350 degrees) which create free radicals. Yuck! Those are pro-inflammatory compounds that will age you from the inside out. Saturated fats don’t do that. Listen, I use olive oil at higher temperatures sometimes if it’s the only fat that works, but you’re better off with coconut oil, ghee or duck fat, in this case. Do what you’re comfortable with because you’ll love these no matter what!
2 pounds baby potatoes, such as red-skinned or Yukon Gold (about 15-18)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt for boiling the potatoes
4 Tablespoons fat of choice, divided (e.g. olive oil, duck fat, or ghee)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
½ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scrub the potatoes and place them in a large pot with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Fill the pot three-fourths with cold water. Place the pot on the stove over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes. You should be able to insert the tip of a paring knife easily into the center of a potato.
Drain the potatoes in a colander and shake to get off as much moisture as possible. Place the potatoes back into the pot and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Roll them around to coat with the oil.
Arrange the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet and evenly space them apart from each other. Take another large rimmed baking sheet and position it right on top of the potatoes and press down, smashing the potatoes to about a half inch thick. Remove the top baking sheet.
Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil on top of the potatoes and sprinkle with the chopped thyme and salt and pepper.
Bake until potatoes are golden and crisp. I took them out after 30 minutes, but you can go much longer if you want them really crispy. Serve hot or warm.
Do your kids ask you for things at the last possible second even though they have known about whatever it is they need for weeks? My husband does this, too. “If you knew last Friday that you would need to bring a wrapped gift for your party, why are you telling me as we’re getting into the car on the WAY to the party??” It really messes up the walk I talk about being organized.
One of my daughters was going to a girl scout meeting which started at 6:00 pm, and guess what? She announced at 5:25 that she needed to bring an hors d’oeuvre. That 10 pre-teens would actually want to eat. And “not like something so totally healthy either, Mom.” Like cool! Like let’s pretend we’re on an episode of Chopped! But seriously, even though I like the idea of being able to whip something yummy together with stuff from my pantry in 20 minutes, it’s a little stressful.
Normally, my go-to would have been hummus, which I can make in 10 seconds and I know my daughter and her friends like it. But of course, on this day I had no cooked chickpeas. So you know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. I found some canned white beans in the pantry and added them to the food processor with a few other staples that generally taste good with white beans and we had ourselves a winner dip. My daughter even said she liked it better than hummus. At the time, I made it with a raw garlic clove and it was terrific, but another day when I wasn’t under the gun I tried it with a whole head of roasted garlic and looooooved it more.
I just made the bean dip again recently to bring to a birthday dinner with some health-conscious ladies and served it with some crudites as shown in the picture. I stole the idea from Martha Stewart of putting the cut veggies in modern drinking glasses. It always makes for a pretty presentation. I also included a small bowl of balsamic vinegar and olive oil with a pinch of sea salt — another stolen idea, this time from an Italian restaurant. We have also used the dip as a sandwich spread with grilled vegetables. Fabulous with eggplant, sweet bell peppers and zucchini!
Sure I could have gone to the market on the way to the meeting and picked up a tub of salsa and a bag of chips, but thankfully I didn’t because then there would of been two of the same hors d’oeuvre at the meeting that night. (At least it’s not just my kid.)
1 head of garlic, unpeeled to roast or 1 large clove raw garlic, peeled
2 cups cooked white beans*, such as cannellini or Great Northern, drained and rinsed, if canned
¼ cup cold-pressed, unrefined extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Several dashes hot sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
a few grinds finely ground black pepper
Roast the garlic: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice off the top fifth of the head of unpeeled garlic. Add a drop of olive oil. Replace the top. Wrap with parchment paper and then aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour. Discard foil and parchment.
Take the top off of the garlic and squeeze the softened garlic out of the skins into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth and creamy. When I'm ready to serve it, I like to drizzle it with a touch of fruity olive oil. Can be made a day ahead and kept covered and refrigerated.
I like to serve this as a dip with crudités or blanched vegetables and/or with warm pita bread, chips or toasted slices of baguette. You can even assemble your own crostini with grilled baguette toasts and white bean spread topped with sautéed greens. It is also great as a sandwich spread.
To cook your beans from scratch, soak dried beans in lots of cold water for at least 6 hours or longer. Drain them. Put them in a pot with enough fresh water to cover by 4-6 inches. Bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender, anywhere from 45 minutes to 1½ hours, depending on the age of the beans. I like to add a tablespoon of kosher salt to the beans and allow them to cool in their cooking liquid for 30-60 minutes, if possible, but it's not necessary. Drain and use immediately or store in the fridge for 3 days. Beans also freeze very well.
It’s not my husband’s fault he can’t find his way around the kitchen. He grew up with a mother who is a very willing and capable cook. She made hot breakfasts every morning and power lunches for school. Each night she lovingly prepared a fresh, well-balanced dinner. Then I came along. I met my husband in college when I was 18 and I already loved cooking for people. I remember sophomore year my husband and his roommates fasted for Yom Kippur, as in they didn’t eat for 24 hours. Who doesn’t love cooking for people who are ravenous?? We dated and I cooked. We married and I cooked. We had kids and I cooked a lot, and I was happy to do it.
I had two unusual days in a row last week where I had to work past dinner time. I verbally clued my husband in to all the dinner possibilities using staples from the pantry and the fridge. There was pesto, poached chicken meat, enough leftover soup for two, cooked brown rice, washed salad greens and vinaigrette in a jar. With pasta and a can of beans in the pantry, I was sure he could come up with something. Or so I thought.
I came home from a long day last Monday night and there it was on the kitchen counter — the take-out pizza box. Sigh. I don’t know what I was thinking that I could expect the poor guy to throw something together after a hard day of work that he and the three kiddos would want to eat. I’m sure no one suffered eating pizza that night, but what would he do the next day?? I knew I needed to plan for an easy dinner that everyone would like and that my husband could handle — orange and rosemary-glazed chicken. This is one of the simplest things you can make and so delicious. This chicken has saved my life on busy weeknights and has delighted dinner guests alike. Just marinate the chicken in a few ingredients ahead of time and pour everything into a casserole dish and bake.
I use all-fruit orange or kumquat preserves in the marinade, but I have used apricot, too. Just make sure it’s all fruit without the addition of any sugar. The preserves will be sweet enough. I love rosemary with orange and with chicken, and I happen to have an out-of-control rosemary bush on my front lawn so I never have enough uses for it. If you don’t have rosemary, thyme works well here, too. The best part of this dish is the yummy, glaze-y sauce which we spoon over the chicken on the plate, but doesn’t get wasted if you serve this with something like rice or millet to sop it up. With some steamed or roasted asparagus or sauteed spinach, someone looks like he knows a little something about something. My hero.
Combine orange marmalade, mustard, shoyu, melted butter, rosemary, and pepper in a glass or nonreactive container that is just big enough to hold the chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade and coat each piece well. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours, or longer if that’s more convenient.
Remove chicken from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you’re not in a rush, allow the chicken to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces and any marinade to a baking dish, such as a 13 x 9 - inch. Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through and browned on top. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving, if possible.
I used to struggle coming up with an hors d’oeuvre that was tasty, fresh and didn’t contain tons of dairy. Have you ever noticed the popular hors d’oeuvres that show up at every cocktail or dinner party – there’s the baked wedge of brie, the spinach and artichoke dip bubbling over with three cheeses AND sour cream, the cheese platter, the mini grilled cheeses and of course, the most sophisticated of all, The Caprese Skewer. Believe me, I’ve made more than my share of boconcini, basil and grape tomatoes on a toothpick, but people, it is no longer 1999! We have got to move on!
So I began thinking about why the Caprese Skewer is so ubiquitous. The Caprese salad is simple and delicious when showcasing perfect tomatoes, aromatic basil and fresh, creamy mozzarella. What could be better than having each of those flavors in one delightful bite? So why not extend the salad-as-skewer idea? What about a Greek Salad Skewer? Grape tomato, spinach or mint-wrapped feta, cucumber, and a pitted kalamata olive sprinkled with dried oregano and drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. Hmmmm, I like it, but very summery.
It’s Fall, so I roasted butternut squash and apples with rosemary and skewered them together with red beets. Needs a little green. Take a piece of arugula or spinach and turn it around a piece of feta so that the feta doesn’t crumble when you skewer it. Then drizzle it all with a little balsamic and oil. Who wouldn’t want to eat that?? Don’t answer that.
I will forewarn you, there is a bit of prep involved. There’s chopping and roasting and skewering. Ah, I am seeing the lure of the ease of the old standby skewer, but these are so worth it. The colors alone will make your hors d’oeuvre stand out in a sea of cream and you will be a star!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the butternut squash cubes in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil to coat. Transfer to prepared sheet pan and spread out in one layer. Season with sea salt, pepper, and half the rosemary.
Place the apple cubes in the same bowl and drizzle with olive oil to coat. Repeat the same procedure as the squash
Place the sheet pans in the oven and roast squash for about 30 minutes, turning halfway, until tender and slightly caramelized. Roast apples until just tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Thread the squash, apple, beet and arugula or spinach on a small skewer or toothpick. If you decide to use feta, wrap the cube of feta with a leaf of arugula/spinach and skewer. Arrange on a serving plate and drizzle with the vinegar and oil.
*other ideas include parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes.