Archive for Spring Possibilities

Phyllis’ Mouth-watering Buttermilk Waffles

The batter for these waffles can be made the night before, an especially good thing for brunch entertaining!  I have included two fruit sauces that are delicious on waffles and we often add a few dollops of yogurt.  We also like using fresh fruit and some maple syrup.

DSC_7722 nx2Make the Waffles:

2 cups sifted unbleached flour**
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ cups buttermilk, well shaken
½ cup butter, melted**

You can use 1/2  cup whole wheat flour & 1 1/2  cups unbleached flour.

Equipment:  A Belgian waffle maker

Preheat waffle maker.

Sift & measure the flour; sift again with baking powder, baking soda, salt & sugar. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light & lemon coloured. Slowly mix in the buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients and blend well. Mix in the melted butter. Place ¼ of the batter on the waffle maker, close & bake until lightly browned & crisp. Remove and place on a large baking pan and put in a preheated 180 F oven to keep warm while finishing the rest of the waffles. Continue baking the rest of the batter in the same way.

NB:  the waffles freeze very well.  Just thaw, pop in the toaster on medium heat until they crisp up.

Here are two of my favourite fruit sauces that I try & make when the fruit is in season to serve with the waffles but you can use really good frozen berries.  Or…you can just throw some fresh, in season berries on top. I like to top off the berries with some plain Greek style yogurt. However, if I were making these for my Mom….nothing else will do but heaps of whipped cream with the berries.

Both sauces will keep, in the fridge for about 1 week.  Otherwise, freeze for using later.

Strawberry Sauce – can be made up to 4 days ahead & you can reduce the recipe by half.  Make sure to use in-season, local strawberries.  They simply cannot be beat for both taste & colour!

Makes 6 Cups

8 cups halved fresh or frozen strawberries
¼ cup water
1 tsp. orange peel, finely grated
1 cup sugar*
½ cup corn syrup*
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
* If you think this would be too sweet for your taste, reduce the sugar accordingly.

In a large saucepan, bring strawberries, water & orange rind to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to medium low & simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Stir in sugar, corn syrup & orange juice, return to the boil, turn heat down a bit and continue to boil, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. Remove from heat; place in a bowl & chill until ready to use.

Blueberry Sauce – can be made 4 days ahead & you can reduce the recipe by half.

Makes 8 Cups

8 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 ½ cups apple juice
1 Tbsp. lemon rind, finely grated
1 ¼ cups sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
¼ cup lemon juice

In a large saucepan, combine blueberries, apple juice & lemon rind; cook over medium heat stirring & mashing berries a bit, leaving some whole, for about 15 minutes or until mixtures comes to a boil. Gradually stir in sugar and corn syrup and lemon juice. Return to a boil and turn heat down a bit and boil stirring often, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat; place in a bowl and chill until ready to use.

** If the sauce is a little too thin for your liking, combine 1 Tbsp. cornstarch with 2 Tbsp. cold water, then slowly stir into the boiling sauce for a minute before removing from the heat.

**If you think this would be two sweet for your taste, you can reduce the sugar accordingly.

To see how to melt butter in the microwave, click Melting Butter in the Microwave.

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Coq au Vin – Chicken Braised in Red Wine

My husband invited friends over for Sunday lunch. He suggested we make Coq au Vin and because we haven’t made this “French bistro favourite” for quite some time, I agreed! It’s definitely coming back into our repertoire! Over the years, the recipe from “Joy of Cooking”  has evolved. I figured adding some demi-glace to enrich the sauce sure couldn’t hurt either. Our lunch guests loved it! We started with an orange, red onion and fennel salad using Domencia Marchetti’s excellent dressing recipe. I used a combination of cara cara, navel and blood oranges. Slices of avocado would also be delicious addition. A crispy baguette is all you need to wipe up all those scrumptious, dark, winey juices!

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

DSC_2237 nx23 ½ to 4 lb. roasting chicken, cut into 10 pieces (4 pieces of breast, drumsticks, thighs & wings)
1 ½ Tbsp. each butter and EVOO
¼ lbs. salt pork, cut into 1/8” dice
¾ cup chopped onions
1 ½ cups small Cipolline (or other small onions), peeled
1 medium or large carrot, sliced
3 minced shallots
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3-4 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 Tbsp. fresh chervil or marjoram, minced
½ bay leaf
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
½ to 1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 – 2 Tbsp. brandy
2 cups dry red wine (decent enough to drink)
2 Tbsp. veal demi-glace (I make my own veal stock but you can buy demi-glace)
½ lb. sliced Crimini mushrooms

We have found that removing the chicken from its vacuum packaging, setting it on a rack & placing it in the fridge overnight makes a real difference to the texture of the chicken. The next day cut the chicken into 10 pieces, saving the back for making chicken stock.  This drying technique works well for roast chicken as well.

To peel the Cipolline onions bring a pot of water to the boil. Add the onions & boil for 1 minute, drain in a colander, rinse in cold water & allow them to cool enough to handle. Leaving the stem end intact, peel off the outer skin with a sharp paring knife & set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Dice up the “cold” salt port (it’s easier to cut that way), place in a small dish & set aside. Chop up the onions, carrots, shallots & garlic. Set aside.

Season the chicken pieces with salt & pepper. Place a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter & EVOO. When hot add the chicken parts, without crowding (you may need to do this in two batches), brown on both sides. Remove from the pan to a large platter & set aside.

Add the finely chopped salt pork to the pan, sautéing until it starts to take on a bit of colour. Add the cipolline & saute for a couple of minutes; add the chopped onions, carrots & shallots, saute until softened; add the chopped garlic, continuing to saute for a minute or so. Add the herbs & bay leaf, stirring to combine; add the flour, stirring & cooking for 2 minutes. Add the brandy, wine & demi-glace; bring to the boil. Return the chicken thighs & drumsticks to the pot, cover with a lid & place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the lid & add the chicken breast & wings, cover & allow to cook for approximately 30 minutes.

In the meantime, saute the mushrooms in a bit of EVOO, seasoning with salt & pepper. Set aside.

The chicken will take approximately 50 – 60 minutes. 10 minutes before its done, stir in the mushrooms, replace the cover to finish cooking.

When done, remove the pan from the oven, remove the chicken parts to a large serving platter & place in a warming (low) oven. Let the sauce stand in the pan for 10 minutes, skim the fat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. If the sauce is not thickened to your liking, mix together 1 Tbsp. potato starch & 1 Tbsp. cold water, stir in a little at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Cook for a couple of minutes. Remove the chicken from the warming oven, pour the sauce over top & serve immediately.

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Barley Pilaf

An old favourite of mine; excellent served with roast pork loin, especially a juicy, bone-in roast . I also use it as an accompaniment to my hazelnut chicken breasts and anything else that takes my fancy! Like I said before, I love barley. If I have leftovers, they will become part of a soup.  You can easily make half the recipe if you like.

Makes 10 Servings

6 Tbsp. butter
1 ½ cups chopped leek
1 cup thinly sliced celery
2 cups pearl barley
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
½ to 1 tsp. salt or to you taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 ½ cups chicken stock or tinned low salt chicken broth**
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup minced fresh parsley
¼ cup snipped fresh chives (or green onions, green part only)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt butter in a heavy ovenproof casserole over medium-low heat. Add leeks & celery & cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add barley & stir 3 minutes. Add bay leaves, thyme, salt & a generous amount of pepper. Mix in stock & wine. Bring to a boil; cover tightly & bake until liquid is absorbed, 35 – 40 minutes. Stir in parsley & chives. Serve immediately.

If you would like to make homemade stock, click Making Stock.

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Brunch Baked Eggs

Here’s another do ahead brunch dish for a stress free host, you can be enjoying your  Blood Orange Mimosa while brunch is baking!  I don’t know about you, but around the holidays when entertaining can get crazy, we need all the do-aheads we can get our hands on. This can be made vegetarian by leaving out the ham.  You can either bake in a 13×9″ pan or make 8 individual servings using ramekins.

DSC_2334 nx2Makes 12 Servings

6 cups shredded cheese, divided in half (a mixture of Monterey Jack, Old Cheddar, Gruyere)
¾ lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ medium onion, chopped
¼ cup (approx.) red bell pepper, thinly sliced
¼ cup butter
8 oz. cooked ham, cut into julienne strips
8 beaten eggs
1 ¾ cups homogenized milk (do not use low fat)
1/8 tsp. Tabasco
½ cup unbleached flour
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives, basil, tarragon or thyme or a mixture of two herbs
1 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsley

Sprinkle 3 cups cheese in the bottom of a well greased or sprayed 13 x 9 x 2” baking dish. In a large frying pan, cook the mushrooms, onion and red pepper in the butter until the vegetables are tender but not brown; drain well. Cool a bit, then place vegetables on top of cheese.

Arrange ham strips on top of vegetables. Sprinkle with the remaining 3 cups of cheese. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

An hour before baking, remove from the fridge. Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, herbs & parsley. Pour the mixture over the ingredients in the baking dish. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Variations:  substitute 3 cups of aged Cheddar for 3 cups of Monterey Jack Cheese.

Blood Orange Mimosa:  freshly squeezed blood orange juice and bubbly wine!  So good!

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Fettuccine Alfredo As It Was Meant To Be

Some time ago I read how Fettuccine Alfredo was first created, using only butter and cheese.  So you can imagine my delight when one day I saw Italian butter at our favourite cheese shop, Les Amis du Fromage!  Wow, I could hardly wait to get home and make some Alfredo.  Of course, there’s no question but Alfredo demands fresh fettuccine or tagliatelle.  The Italian butter really rocks this dish! We have been able to get our hands on New Zealand grass-fed butter that worked out very well.

Makes 3 – 4 Servings

1 lb. fresh, fettuccine/tagliatelle noodles**3 egg pasta dough
4 oz. Italian butter, unsalted and very soft (if you can’t find it…cultured, unsalted butter also works quite well)
2 – 3 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated + extra for serving
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large pasta serving bowl in an 180 F oven.

Cook the fettuccine noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water for about two or three minutes, test for doneness after two minutes. At the same time, mix the softened butter in a bowl with the grated cheese until the cheese almost dissolves, forming a smooth cream. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta leaving just a small amount of water and toss the noodles with the Alfredo sauce in a heated serving bowl, adding pasta cooking water as necessary to create a creamy sauce; adding more cheese as necessary.  Season with freshly ground black pepper & serve immediately.

A creamy, cheesy dish of goodness enjoyed occasionally @#5.

To see how to make your own pasta, click Food Processor or Stand Mixer Pasta Dough.

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Phyllis’ Leek & Pancetta Tagliatelle

My “take” on a Lorenza de’Medici recipe. We think the addition of pancetta and a splash of white wine to the sauce makes it even more delicious.  I often make half the recipe for our primo which goes especially well with lamb marinated in my go to marinade for lamb.  And I hone in on local leeks, which are so sweet and delicious, to make this tasty, light sauce.

DSC_6712 nx2Makes 4 Servings

3 Tbsp. EVOO (or a combination of EVOO & unsalted butter)
2 lbs. leeks, cleaned & thinly sliced**
4 oz. pancetta cut ¼” thick & cut into cubes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup chicken stock
Pinch of grated nutmeg
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 egg pasta dough** or 12 – 16 oz. dried egg tagliatelle

Heat 1 Tbsp. EVOO in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the pancetta cubes to the pan & sauté until lightly browned, but not crisp, remove & set aside.

If there is more than 1 Tbsp. oil left in the pan, remove the excess. Add the remaining oil or a combination of oil & butter to the pan, adding the leeks when the oil is hot. Sauté, stirring for a few minutes, until they are translucent; season with salt & pepper to taste. Add ¼ cup water, lower the heat & simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil & warm a large pasta serving bowl.

When the leeks are done, add the cream, white wine, stock & nutmeg to the pan. Heat through; cover and keep warm on very low heat until ready to toss with the pasta.

Cook the pasta until al dente; reserve ½ cup or so of the cooking water. Drain the pasta in a colander. Add 3 Tbsp. Parmigiano to the sauce & stir to combine. Add the pasta to the sauce in the pan, tossing & adding pasta cooking water if it appears too dry. Toss for about 1 minute; season with salt & pepper if required. Place the pasta into the warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, passing the remaining Parmigiano.

If you would like to make tagliatelle/fettuccine, click Food Processor or Stand Mixer Pasta Dough.
To see how to clean leeks, click How To Trim Wild (Ramps) And Regular Leeks.

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3 Mediterranean Dips

I just crave these dips in the summer. Transports me straight to the Mediterranean! Good pita and some great wine; just about perfect. I think dips are a wonderful thing to take to a party or get-together in the summer. Great with my Greek lemon-oregano chicken or marinated lamb. You might want to drain the yogurt the night before for a nice thick Tzatziki.

Phyllis’ Tzatziki

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

_DSC2041 resize2 cups Plain Yogurt (I like Liberte Mediterranean, but a good thick Greek yogurt would also be great)
½ English cucumber
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. EVOO
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

Take a large piece of well rinsed cheesecloth (Julia Child always recommended rinsing to remove the medicinal aroma of cheesecloth). Line a metal sieve with the cheesecloth. Place the yogurt in the sieve; place over a bowl and cover. Allow to drain in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Grate the cucumber and place in a sieve over a bowl; salt the cucumber & allow to drain for about 20 minutes. Remove yogurt and place in a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as possible, using your hands, and add to the yogurt. Smash the garlic and sprinkle with a little sea salt. By pressing & spreading with the back of a chef’s knife, puree the garlic & add to the yogurt mixture. Add the lemon juice, EVOO, Dijon mustard and dill. Blend well. Place in the fridge for an hour or so to blend the flavours. Season with salt if required and serve with pita bread or as a dip for kebabs or anything else that takes your fancy! Tzatziki will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Hummus 

This is another wonderful dip from the Mediterranean. It is not only delicious with warm pita bread but I also use it for sandwiches & wraps.

Makes about 3 cups

1 19oz tin chick-peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed & drained
½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste), well-stirred
1/3 cup EVOO
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground cumin
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup cold water
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Tahini can be found at most grocery stores, usually in the ethnic section, or at any Greek grocery store.

Place chick-peas, tahini, oil, lemon juice, coriander & cumin in the bowl of a food processor; puree until smooth; transfer to a bowl. Stir in garlic, parsley, water, season with salt & pepper. Hummus is a good keeper and will last a number of days in the fridge.

Baba Ghanouj

Boy do I love this! It just screams summer. Serve either with warm pita or as a spread on a wrap. Try and get some fresh, local eggplant for this if possible.

Makes about 3 cups

2 large eggplants (2 ½ lbs. total)
¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste), well-stirred
2 – 3 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste with ½ tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 – 1 ½ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. EVO
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Garnish: Smoked paprika and a drizzle of EVOO

Tahini can be found at most grocery stores, usually in the ethnic section, or at any Greek grocery store.

Turn oven to broil. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and broil 6” from heat, until very soft, turning occasionally. Cool 20 – 35 minutes. Cut eggplants in half and remove the flesh, discarding the skin. (I usually strain the cooked eggplant pulp for 30 minutes to remove excess liquid). Place in food processor with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin & salt until combined well. Season with salt if necessary. Transfer to a serving plate or shallow bowl, drizzle with EVO, sprinkle with a few pinches of smoked paprika and then scatter on the parsley.

If you would like to make the chicken to have with the tzatziki, click Greek Lemon Chicken.

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Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Meyer lemons were something we never saw in our markets here in Vancouver…but thankfully all that’s changed! Heck, even Costco sells them now!  This dressing is excellent and I make it often.  Whenever I find Meyer lemons, I pick up a bunch, squeeze them and freeze the juice for later use.

Makes Approximately 1 Cup

¼ cup Meyer lemon juice
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed
½ tsp. stoneground Dijon mustard
1/8 – ¼ tsp. each of dried marjoram, oregano & basil (fresh herbs are wonderful if you have them, simply use 1/2 tsp. of each one)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 ½ tsp. sugar
Salt to taste
¾ cup EVOO

Put everything, except the oil, in the blender & blend until well combined; slowly drizzle in the EVOO until dressing is emulsified or all ingredients are well blended. Taste, adjust seasoning to your taste & enjoy.

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Anne’s Anchovy-less Caesar Salad Dressing

This one is for all of you who hate anchovies as much as I do!  I’ve sampled really fresh, marinated ones in Italy, sorry, they still taste like anchovies!  It’s OK though, my husband adores the little morsels!  The garlic gives it a really good punch. Anne gave me her recipe a really long time ago and we make the dressing often as you can tell from the stained, well-used recipe in the photo. Get out the romaine, parmesan and homemade croutons.

Makes approximately 1 cup

1 egg
2 garlic, coarsely crushed
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
9 Tbsp. EVOO
Dash of salt to taste
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
2-4 drops of Tabasco
2-4 drops of Worcestershire sauce

Combine everything but the oil in a blender. Blend well. Slowly drizzle in the oil until well emulsified. Pour into a jar & keep chilled for up to 3 or 4 days.

Toss with romaine lettuce leaves, a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese & croutons, toss again.  Enjoy!

If you would like to make your own croutons, please go to Homemade Croutons.  Featured image shows salad with toasted Italian bread drizzled with EVOO…also fabulous!

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Spaghetti With Ramps

Years ago I read an article about ramps in Gourmet Magazine. I was really curious, what the heck are they? Turns out they are hunted & gathered in the spring and are also known as wild leeks.  A good friend, who is a chef, used her connections & got us some. Still don’t know the secret places they are found though! What do you do with a box of ramps, why you begin by making a batch of this pasta and slurp up spring!

DSC_1976 nx2Makes 4 Servings

½ lb. ramps
1 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated (Meyer lemon works great)
¼ cup EVOO
1 lb. spaghetti
8  Tbsp. Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, I like to use a combination of both + more for passing
1/4  tsp.  of red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. soft butter

Toasted bread crumb topping, made ahead of time (see recipe below)

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a large serving bowl in a 180 F oven to warm.

Trim the roots from the ramps & slip off outer skin on bulbs if loose. Blanch ramps in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 2 – 3 seconds; transfer to a colander with tongs. Coarsely chop the ramps &  put in a food processor with the lemon zest, chili flakes & EVO.
Add 1 – 1 ½ Tbsp. salt to the boiling water. Add the spaghetti and cook for 4 minutes. Remove ½ cup of pasta water & add to the  ramps in the food processor. Puree until smooth; remove to a small bowl; season with the salt.

Continue to cook spaghetti until al dente then remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the spaghetti in a colander. Return pasta to the pot, add the ramp puree & toss over moderate heat 1 – 2 minutes, thinning sauce with a bit of pasta cooking water if pasta appears to be too dry. Remove pasta from heat; add 2 Tbsp. butter & the cheese; toss together and place in a large, warm serving bowl. Top with the toasted bread crumbs and serve immediately.

Toasted Bread Crumb Topping For Pasta

Preheat oven to 350 F.
3 ½” thick slices whole-grain bread
2 Tbsp. EVOO
Sea salt to taste

Cut bread into cubes, then grind to crumbs in a food processor. Spread in a shallow baking pan & bake in the middle of the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 – 15 minutes. Pour crumbs into a bowl & stir in the EVO & salt.

Bread crumb topping can be used with other pastas as well.

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