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Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

2 Apr

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Looking for an easy new side dish? This recipe is shockingly delicious. Just a couple ingredients and it pairs well with just about any protein or other roasted veggies. I served this with steaks for Sunday supper (see below)  this weekend as a substitute for potatoes. It was a huge hit.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
Preheat oven to 425°. Cut 1 head cauliflower into florets; toss on a large rimmed baking sheet with 1 sliced medium onion, 4 thyme sprigs, 4 unpeeled garlic cloves, and 3 tablespoons olive oil; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until almost tender, 35-40 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, toss to combine, and roast until cauliflower is tender, 10-12 minutes longer.

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Margaret’s Braised Winter Greens

6 Jan

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My friend Margaret makes a mean collard green.  She actually converted me to the winter green a couple years ago. Somehow, without any pork product, she can make the green salty and with a great kick.

So, in the spirit of cooking healthy this January I asked Margaret to share her notorious recipe. It turns out it’s a Cooks Illustrated recipe that can be used for anything from kale to collards.

I made this Sunday night after yoga and it left me more balanced since before Thanksgiving. You’ve got to try this recipe – the lemon juice and red pepper flakes make it to-die-for. Cheers to a healthy and delicious 2014!

Margaret’s (Cook’s Illustrated (February ‘09) BRAISED HEARTY GREENS

I slice the stems and include them along w/ the leaves.

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 med onion, minced (about 1 C)
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed (about 5 t)
  • 1/8 t red pepper flakes
  • 2 lb collard greens or kale (about 24 loosely packed cups)
  • 1 C chick broth (obviously substitute veg broth)
  • 1 C water
  • salt
  • 2-3 t juice from l lemon
  • black pepper

Heat 2 T oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Cook onion, stirring, until softened & beginning to brown, 4-5 min. Add garlic & pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add 1/2 the greens (this is when I add the stems) & stir until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute. Add remaining greens, broth, water & 1/4 t salt; quickly cover & reduce heat until low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 25 to 35 min for kale & 35-45 for collards. Remove lid & increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated (bottom of pot will be almost dry and greens begin to sizzle), 8-12 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in 2 t lemon juice & remaining oil. Season salt/pepper & lemon juice to taste.

New Year’s Eve Fried Risotto Balls

2 Jan

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My New Year’s Eve celebration was spent with good friends in the North Carolina mountains. It was much more relaxed of an NYE than I can ever remember. We didn’t leave the house all day, had a great brunch, went on a four mile hike, napped, lounged and then spent the night playing cards, eating great food and laughing. Right before midnight we were able to do some great stargazing outside on a chilly walk with Winston. 

I must admit, we made way too much food. Yet it was all adventure in the kitchen with tasty results. in the midsts of a heated card game, I served hot fried risotto balls. This recipe was a total test but turned out great. The key is buying frozen risotto from the store. The Fresh Market has two great varieties that are perfect for this use. Skipping the making of the risotto is the only way to do it. 

While I know everyone is scaling back for the New Year, perhaps put this one on file for Super Bowl! 

New Year’s Eve Fried Risotto Balls

  • 1 box frozen The Fresh Market risotto (pumpkin or mushroom)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small ball fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups Italian seasoned pinko bread crumbs
  • canola oil
  • salt
  • parsley, minced

Prepare the frozen risotto as stated on the box. Add Parmesan cheese. Cook until thick and allow to cool in the refrigerator for about an hour (or in our case, outside on the frozen deck).

Once congealed, roll the risotto in small golf ball sized balls. Stuff a small cube of fresh mozzarella in the middle. Roll in pinko bread crumbs. Chill again.

Heat about one inch of oil in a high-sided pan on high heat. Fry the risotto balls until brown and crispy. Place on a paper towel covered plate and season with salt and chopped parsley. Enjoy while hot!

Grilled Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus with Orange Vinaigrette

9 Sep

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Last night I hosted some special food and wine loving friends over for a casual Sunday supper. And these folks were worth pulling out some stops for.  I put together a menu of small dishes (that in reality were not that small) of Italian savory bites. Roasted tomato crostini, pan roasted lemon shrimp, fried cauliflower zeppoli, dry pickled cucumber salad and these most delicious grilled pancetta wrapped asparagus. Oh, and the most perfect almond cake.

I think this dish was my favorite out of all.  Don’t be shocked by it’s simplicity. Get grilling.

 

Grilled Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus with Orange Vinaigrette from Food & Wine Magazine 

  • 2 pounds medium asparagus
  • 1/2 pound very thinly sliced pancetta
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme

Tightly wrap each asparagus spear in a slice of pancetta and refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, stir the orange zest and juice with the mustard and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus over moderate heat, turning often, until they are just tender and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with the thyme and serve.

 

 

Simple Sesame Sugar Snap Peas

20 Aug

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Yesterday the Lake Daniel Greenway was packed with high school cross-country runners. I love back to school season. There is something about backpacks, marching band practice, freshly sharpened pencils and the hints of Fall that makes me so nostalgic. Summer ain’t over yet (I’ve got my white jeans on, ya’ll) but I sometimes think the world is in order when school starts back and the geese start to fly north.

This weekend I did a lot of nothing while watching the rain fall on Mendenhall. I did get off the sofa for a couple trips out and to make Sunday Supper for my friend Andrew. I made a simmer supper of grilled citrus marinated chicken, rice pilaf with pistachios and cherries and these sesame sugar snap peas. I love eating sugar snap peas raw, steamed or sautéed. They could not be easier to cook. This might be my favorite way to prepare them.

This is a perfect side for a school night supper. Enjoy.

Simple Sesame Sugar Snap Peas

  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • Good serving of sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • sesame seeds
  • salt

Heat sesame oil in a skillet. Add sugar snap peas and cook on medium high until they turn bring green and still keep their crunch. Add sesame seeds and cook until they start to toast. Season with salt and serve.

Iron Hen Sauteed Summer Okra

1 Jul

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Do you guys ever go to the Iron Hen in Fisher Park? It’s one of my favorite lunch spots in town (they have good brunch too!) and I’m a huge fan of their seasonal side items. In the winter, their brussels sprout hash will change your world and my summertime staple is their sauteed okra. Nothing beats a locally owned cafe in walking distance with great locally sourced food…

A couple of weeks ago, the Iron Hen published their recipe for sauteed okra and I was surprised to find out the secret ingredient – panko breadcrumbs! This is so smart! The okra tastes fried but is simply sauteed in olive oil and panko! I made the recipe for friends last week and they devoured every last crumb. I’m so glad they shared the recipe while okra is in season. Here it is – make sure to try the recipe and swing by the Iron Hen for a delicious meal too!

Iron Hen Sauteed Summer Okra 

  • 1 pound fresh okra
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim the stems off the ends of the okra, slice okra length wise. Pour oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat and allow it to heat until almost smoking. Add the okra and Panko bread crumbs. Sauté until okra has softened slightly, but is still crisp and brightly colored, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Fried Green Tomato Stacks

30 Jun

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Last week I held a small birthday party in honor of my dear friend Jamey. We’ve been celebrating Jamey’s birthday over the years with fantastic parties at their mountain house in Deep Gap. This year we were all too busy to break away but couldn’t resist getting together for a nice meal and lots of rose wine.

I love hosting birthday parties – a special occasion to cook something special for a friend, an excuse to go a little over-the-top and set a beautiful table with lots of color and fresh flowers (I’m loving hydrangeas right now from my garden!). The over-the-top part of Jamey’s birthday menu was the Fried Green Tomato Stacks.

Fried green tomatoes are really only permitted once a year but are an amazing treat to surprise friends with. I use a simple recipe of buttermilk, eggs, cornmeal, flour and garlic powder. And fry in a mix of canola oil and butter. The recipe is from Garden & Gun Magazine but I scale back the frying proportions dramitcally for the sake of all mental and physical health. This recipe is incredible and worth all the mess. I served the green tomatoes stacked between a smear of pimento cheese and a sliver of super hot fire-roasted jalapenos (a big kick!). You could easily replace the jalapeno for fresh basil.

Tis the season for this treat – so hop on it this holiday!

Fried Green Tomato Stacks

 

  • Garden and Gun ACME Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Your favorite pimento cheese. The Fresh Market and My Three Sons make great store bought and I love homemade too.
  • Basil or fire-roasted jalapeno (I made my own by charring fresh jalepeno on the gas burner and then steaming in a paper bag)

 

 

Sweet Summer Corn with Homemade Chimichurri

28 Jun

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Happy Friday! I’m happy as a clam to be wrapping up two months of the Pop Up Promenade Downtown and really excited to be going on vacation!! Above is an old photo of my childhood summertime. I’m feeling that happy right now!  But in the meantime, I know ya’ll have anxiously been waiting for the recipe for Sweet Summer Corn with Homemade Chimichurri! Fresh corn maybe one of the single best things about summer and this recipe is even better with fresh herbs, spicy jalapeno and cumin! I paired it with hamburgers but it is a great side for just about anything. It also takes no time to whip up (shucking the corn is the worst part and I recommend delegating that to friends and children). So, get to it!

I’ll be officially going off the grid next Wednesday for a little rest & relaxation – but, I need to report some recipes from a really delicious birthday bash I hosted this week. The menu was perfectly summer – fried green tomato stacks, grilled pork chops with blackberry and ginger sauce, sautéed okra and a blueberry and peach crisp. I’ll post the recipes this weekend and into the week. I hope you’ll take advantage of them on your 4th of July breaks.

Meanwhile – happy weekend!

Sweet Summer Corn with Homemade Chimichurri

  • 5 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off
  • 3 tablespoons (or more), olive oil
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons, homemade chimichurri sauce

Sautee fresh corn kernels in several tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat. This will take about 5 to 8 minutes to get the corn bright yellow and sweet. Once cooked to your preference, add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of homemade chimichurri sauce.

Homemade Chimichurri, inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow

  • 1 large handful, parsley
  • 1/2 large handful, cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons, red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon, ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon, salt

Pulse everything together in a food processor!

Roasted Shrimp, Chorizo and Mushrooms with lots and lots of Garlic!

28 Apr

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Here are too very garlicky recipes that take no time to prepare – and folks will go wild for them! The trick is to roast both of them while guests are beginning to arrive. The aroma is pretty incredible and they will want to dive in with bread, big glasses of wine and their finger tips!

These two dishes pair extremely well with the other dishes from my Spanish Tapas night. And, these are the only two that require much cooking!

Garlicky Roasted Chorizo & Shrimp (serves a crowd – reduce shrimp quantity for smaller groups – but never reduce the chorizo!

  • one packaged, dry-cured chorizo – I used Palacios Imported that is available at The Fresh Market
  • 2 pounds, pealed and deveined shrimp
  • 4 or 5 cloves of fresh garlic, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

In a large oven proof ceramic dish, throw in sliced chorizo and garlic. Over with olive oil – a bit generously. Roast at 425 degrees until fragrant and chorizo is beginning to get crispy. Toss in shrimp and stir well. Season generously like salt and pepper. Roast until shrimp are cooked to your preference – this will not take long!! Serve immediately while hot and delicious!

Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms from Gourmet.com and Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 pound mushrooms such as cremini or white, halved lengthwise if large
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle. Toss mushrooms with capers, garlic, oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper in a 1 1/2- to 2-qt shallow baking dish. Top with butter and roast, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and golden and bubbly garlic sauce forms below, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley. Serve immediately.

Ed Winslow: Hummus Master’s Tips

20 Feb

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I discovered Ed Winslow’s blog, Mid Law and Divers Items, last August when his daughter, Margaret, shared his post with me about a breakthrough in homemade hummus making. The blog post was sandwiched between entries on 21st Century Skill Sets and Benchmarks of 19th Century African American Attorneys. It shortly summarized a tip about microwaving chickpeas before processing in order to break down starchy crystals for smoother hummus consistency. He concluded the post stating that “This discovery is thought by some to explain the presence of certain microwave-like structures found at archaeological sites throughout the Middle East.”

The post piqued my interest. A well-respected attorney, civic leader and veteran is blogging about law and hummus in Greensboro? Go figure. Naturally, I set up a time to meet with him and get a better understanding of his interest and history with hummus.

Over a bowl of warm family-farm grown peanuts from Edgecombe County, I chatted with Winslow. While he comes across stern in person, he is just as humorous and witty as his writing.

Winslow’s first memory of hummus is somewhere between the Mediterranean and  North Africa around 1966 when he was studying “everything other than growing up in Eastern North Carolina” in the South of France. Years later he began making homemade hummus after reading a recipe in Cooks Illustrated Magazine on restaurant quality hummus. And today, he is a proud owner of his second 40 pound bucket of tahini – the sesame paste that is an essential ingredient in hummus. He makes that much hummus!

I asked, “but why?” He gave me a deposition on the essentials.

Hummus:

“Hummus goes back 3,000 years and is contemporary only because of food processors.  Hummus is a great equalizer in the world of cuisine. A child of the Middle East but speaks to all people. Hummus is a metaphor for the universality of the truth. And the next great leap forward is understanding the possibilities of tahini…”

Tahini

“Tahini is a collaborative ingredient. It has its own voice yet joins in creating harmony with its fellows.”

Winslow purchases his tahini in bulk from Annah Awartani, the owner of Zaytoon Restaurant in Downtown Greensboro. Tahini should be stored in a cool dark space and has an extremely long shelf life. He credits Zaytoon for the best restaurant hummus in Greensboro.

Chickpeas: 

“Chickpeas are the most popular legume in the world. High in protein and fiber. Low in calories and inexpensive. They rival sardines and bananas as the world’s wonder food.

Chickpeas don’t get the respect of bananas…but are higher in social status than sardines.”

Lemon Juice:

“The key to great hummus is controlling the amount of lemon juice. The right amount of lemon juice is problematic; I do not like too much, but there must be enough.”

Finishing Touches:   

“Pine nuts are the champagne of nuts.” Slivered almonds or pine nuts are a great garnish. Also parsley. Drizzle oil on top and add paprika or cayenne.

Nazareth Bread Company makes great whole wheat pita and Turkish flatbread.”

Closing Statement: 

When concluding my chat with Winslow I asked if he had a closing statement on hummus. He replied, “We need a good pun on hummus. Come back during pesto season.“

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Winslow’s Straight Ahead hummus recipe has been public since he prepared it for the Canterbury Teachers Picnic years ago and they demanded the recipe. 

Ed Winslow’s Straight Ahead Hummus

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed – reserve 2 tablespoons chickpeas
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped roughly
  • ¼ teaspoon, salt
  • ½ teaspoon, cumin
  • 6 tablespoons, tahini
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons, olive oil
  • 1 or 2 lemons, juiced
  • Cayenne, to taste
  • Slivered almonds (if desired)
  1. Microwave chickpeas for 5 minutes to breakdown starches.
  2. Process chickpeas (except reserved ones) & garlic, pretty thoroughly in a food processor, push down sides.
  3. Add salt, cumin, dash cayenne & process
  4. Combine juice of 1 or 2 lemons with hot water.
  5. Combine about 6 TBS tahini with about 2 TBS olive oil, whisk to smooth consistency.
  6. Drizzle lemon juice & water through tube into running food processor and combine thoroughly
  7. Repeat with tahini/oil mixture
  8. Add water as desired to achieve consistency desired; add water/juice/oil if needed for taste; more water makes it more creamy; keep trying more and more water until you see what you prefer.
  9. Toast almonds
  10. Put hummus in bowl; sprinkle on top reserved chickpeas, almonds, some olive oil, some cayenne
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