Friday, May 19, 2017

Brown Butter Pretzel Crumbs Gives Asparagus Unforgettable Flavor

This super-simple asparagus dish with its complementing contrasts of textures is a lovely springtime side dish to serve with lamb, fish or chicken.

2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup shallots, thinly sliced
¼ cup pretzel crumbs, crushed
1 bunch asparagus spears, tough ends removed

    Image result for image of shallots sliced
  1. In a large pot, cook asparagus in boiling water until just fork-tender. (Checking every minute or so, by piercing spears with a sharp knife.) Once cooked, immediately emerge spears in cold water; and keep at room temperature until serving time.
  2. In a medium skillet over moderate heat, melt butter and sauté shallots until tender; add pretzel crumbs and cook stirring constantly until chestnut brown. Set aside.
  3. Just prior to serving, heat the asparagus spears by pouring boiling water over them; drain and place the spears on a kitchen towel to absorb any excess water. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and top with shallot/brown butter pretzel crumb mixture. Serve immediately.

4 servings

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pink Stalks Promise Sweet Flavor

When we were taste-testing this cake, I had to hide it from Nick because after his second helping he confessed he would have consumed the entire cake in one sitting! It is extraordinarily moist and if I hadn’t been the person assembling the ingredients, I would never guess that tart-tasting rhubarb (a description for which it is commonly known) was one of the primary ingredients.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups (about ½ pound) rhubarb, finely diced
½ cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1½ teaspoons cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. 
  2. Lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. 
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. 
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter with white and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until slightly fluffy. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beat until well combined. Fold in rhubarb. Transfer cake batter to baking pan, spreading evenly.
  5. In a small bowl, toss walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Distribute topping evenly over cake.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
About 15 servings

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Salty Chocolate Chip Cookies

If the combination of bittersweet chocolate and sea salt is all you need to satisfy your chocolate craving, then this cookie is the one for you. Plan accordingly, especially if your craving is irrepressible; the dough has to refrigerate overnight.

3½ dozen cookies

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
10 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces
Coarse sea salt

1.     Combine the sugar with the brown sugar in a large bowl.
2.     Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Cook the butter until chestnut brown, stirring frequently—this will take several minutes. (There is a narrow window between brown butter and burnt butter, so watch closely.) Pour the hot brown butter over the sugar; don’t stir. Refrigerate the mixture for about 45 minutes.
3.     After 45 minutes, beat the brown butter/sugar mixture on medium speed until light and somewhat fluffy. Add the egg and beat until fully combined. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.
4.     Combine the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the brown butter/sugar mixture and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate pieces. Cover the mixture and refrigerate overnight.
5.     Allow the dough to come to room temperature for about 1 hour or until it’s pliable.
6.     Preheat the oven to 350°F.
7.     Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
8.     Form the dough into balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Arrange the balls on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart or 12 per baking sheet. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle each cookie with coarse sea salt.
9.     Bake for 14 minutes, switching baking trays halfway through baking time.

10.  Allow the cookies to stand on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Gingered Celery with Almonds is a Crowd-Pleaser

This is a unique side dish that beautifully complements baked chicken and steamed rice—a crowd-pleasing trio that will not disappoint.

2 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup slivered almonds
½ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
                                          4 cups diagonally sliced celery, about ¼-inch thick

    1.     In a medium sauté pan over moderate heat, melt the butter. Add the slivered almonds and sauté until light brown, stirring often. (Watch closely to make sure they don’t burn.) Add chicken broth, dried minced onion, garlic powder, ginger, soy sauce or tamari, and celery. Stir to combine the ingredients.
     2.     Cover and decrease heat to medium-low and cook for about 10-20 minutes or until celery is tender, stirring once or twice during the cooking process. Serve immediately.

4 servings

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Old Bay and Melted Cheese Transforms Medley of Vegetables

In my early twenties, I worked in a restaurant owned by an energetic man named Harvey Shugarman. This gluten-free dish—gluten-free hadn’t come into vogue yet—known as the Vegetarian Delight, was among the most popular on the menu with the getting-ready-to-fit-in-the-summer-wardrobe crowd.

I love its versatility; just about any vegetable works. If you don’t have one of the vegetables called for in this recipe, be creative and design your own combination of vegetables. Offer slices of authentic French, Italian or Ciabatta bread with olive oil for dipping or offer breadsticks to the getting-ready-to-fit-in-the-summer-wardrobe crowd as was customary at Harvey’s restaurant.

Hardier vegetables require longer cooking times than the more delicate vegetables. You don’t want mushy vegetables, so it’s important to cook the vegetables until just fork-tender. The amount of Old Bay seasoning is a matter of preference. I tend to be heavy-handed because the seasoning is what brings all the flavors together. I prefer a variety of cheeses, and, like the versatility of the vegetables, just about any flavorful good-melting cheese works.

6 servings

2 cups julienned carrots
2 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
2 cups bite-sized broccoli florets
1½ cups quartered sliced zucchini, ½-inch thick pieces
2 cups yellow squash, ½-inch slices
2 cups sliced celery, ¼-inch slices
1 large onion cut into chunks
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded cheese like mozzarella, Monterey Jack or sharp white cheddar

1.     Set oven temperature to broil.
2.     In a large pot with a steamer, bring water to a boil. Steam the carrots, cauliflower and broccoli until not yet fork-tender. Keep these vegetables in the steamer and add the zucchini, yellow squash, celery and onion. Cook until just fork-tender.
3.     Carefully transfer the vegetables to a baking dish and gently toss them to evenly distribute. Season the vegetables with Old Bay seasoning. Top the vegetables with Parmesan and shredded cheeses.
4.     Place baking dish under broiler and broil until cheese melts and turns a light golden brown. Serve immediately.