a little of each

A family's cookbook

Summer Chicken Salad July 26, 2013

Filed under: Main Dishes,Sandwiches — alittlemoreofeach @ 9:54 pm
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Crunchy, tender, sweet, savory, and other opposites.

Crunchy, tender, sweet, savory, and other opposites.

I strive for peace on Friday around dinnertime.  I strive, and I hope, and sometimes it’s a big, fat failure with bickering or takeout pizza (sins of equal weight somehow). And tonight, the mister was still at work, and I had no meal planned after just arriving home at the time I’d prefer to be blissfully blessing the wine and gazing at my dressed and brushed children over a lovingly prepared meal that they’d eat with the gusto reserved for macaroni and cheese.  The only saving grace was I knew I had some frozen challah.

So, yeah, it was a bust already, right?  So me and my what-the-hell attitude rummaged in the kitchen. And I came up with a practically defiant chicken salad.  My ladies have never seen chicken salad before, but it’s a trifecta of pickiness – a (1) mixture of ingredients (2) touching each other (3) in a sauce.  Oh lord.  To the table, I added the challah, a plate of grapes, and cheese sticks so that when faces recoiled in disgust, I couldn’t be accused of starving my children.

Hands washed, hairs unbrushed, still in summer camp clothes, we lit the candles, we blessed the bread, and you know what?  They didn’t recoil in disgust when they saw their plates.  The big one ate her challah, some grapes, and then she gingerly tried a bite.  She said, you’ll never guess, “Mmmm.”  I said, “I’m so glad you like it.  I hoped you would.”  And then she tried a piece of chicken with a grape, and then a piece of cucumber with a grape, and then chicken and celery, and with each combination, she exclaimed, “I didn’t think I’d like this, but it’s so yummy.”  And then the kicker, “And I love how it looks so fancy on the lettuce all spread out.  You should make it again, and soon!”

Now the little one gave a good college try of two solid bites, and only one slight gag.  I call that a homerun.

We watched the candles standing tall with only a very occasional flicker, we talked about the giant pile of garbage floating in the Pacific, and we laughed at the little one’s potty jokes.  Just as Shabbat is meant to be.

Go easy on the dressing, and don’t leave out that brown sugar – it’s a definite secret ingredient sort of enhancement.

Ingredients
Half of a rotisserie chicken, skin removed and diced
Half of a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
Half of one celery stalk, chopped small
One cup of red grapes, cut in half
Romaine lettuce leaves

Dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 mayonnaise
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1 Tbl brown sugar

Directions
Whisk together ingredients for the dressing. In a separate bowl, combine the salad ingredients. Add half of the dressing, stirring gently, and then add more to your taste, careful not to oversaturate the salad. Lay some Romaine leaves on a plate, and serve a scoop of the salad in the center.  The leaves can be used like taco shells, and just like that, chicken salad is a finger food!

Variation
For a tropical flavor, try these ingredients:
Half of a rotisserie chicken, skin removed and diced
Half of a mango, peeled and diced
1/4 cup cashews
One cup of red grapes, cut in half
Romaine lettuce leaves

Dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 mayonnaise
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1 Tbl coconut milk powder
1 Tbl sweet curry powder

 

Berry Crumb Bars June 11, 2013

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 10:39 am
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photo 1

Blueberries and raspberries are good friends in this crumb bar.

 

Raspberries taste like Connecticut to me.

More specifically, my grandparents’  backyard in a tiny town in Connecticut in June. It was the first time I remember eating raspberries – I was nine.  The berries were picked from the canes, sun-warmed, sweet, and just tart enough.  My siblings and I monitored the raspberry bushes that delineated the edge of the backyard and a woodsy area from which bunnies would emerge in the late afternoons, and we heard a rumor of a bear once.  Those few summertime visits – with their endless trips (no matter our age) down the Giant Hill in the 50-year-old Radio Flyer wagon that was my dad’s when he was little, an outing to UConn’s dairy farm and ice cream shop, helping (or I should say “helping”) my grandfather in his large vegetable garden with its oddly dirty dirt, not the sandy stuff I was used to – are encapsulated in those delicate, jewel-hued berries.

So when Publix has raspberries, normally such a extravagance it still seems, on sale for $2.50 a container, a few (or more) go in my basket, and I am transported.

photo 2

I adapted a smittenkitchen recipe for crumb bars that is so darn wonderful.  (What does that lady do that *isn’t* wonderful?  Nothing, that’s what!) The crust is like a shortbread – not too sweet, just a bit crumbly, and a lot buttery. While the original recipe calls for a combination of blueberries and lemon (both the zest and juice), I counted on the tartness of the raspberries and omitted the lemon with no regrets.  I also added some whole wheat flour for flavor and better health. (Although, c’mon, we’ve got two sticks of butter in this…)

Ingredients

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, and/or diced strawberries (I used blueberries and raspberries.)
1/2 cup white sugar
4 tsp cornstarch

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, both flours, and baking powder. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the berries. Sprinkle the berry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

photo 3

 

Roasted Broccoli June 2, 2013

Filed under: Fruits and Vegetables — alittlemoreofeach @ 7:23 pm
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Broccoli cheese soup?  Love!

Steamed broccoli? Eh, not bad.

Raw broccoli with dip?  No, thanks.

Broccoli salad?  A sweet and tangy yes, please!

But this recipe is my favorite way to eat broccoli, by far.  It’s easy, fast, and roasting the vegetable with lemon juice and salt and pepper does something to it that I can’t resist, and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve made myself uncomfortable by eating more than I should have.  And I’m not the only one who loves it.  Three-year-old Alice begged the last few florets from Ken’s plate tonight at dinner.  No joke.  I can’t recall when we’ve had leftovers of this side dish.

The original recipe calls for adding Parmesan and for a few tablespoons of toasted pinon.  I consider them optional as I don’t miss them and appreciate the healthier approach without the nuts and cheese.

Roasted broccoli makes me happy!

Roasted broccoli makes me happy!

Ingredients
2-3 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Good olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 Tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks. Peel the tougher outer part of the stalks away and then dice what remains. You should have about 8 cups of florets and stalk pieces. Place the broccoli on a sheet pan lined with aluminium foil that is large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Serve hot.

 

The Best Scones May 20, 2013

Filed under: Breads,Breakfast — alittlemoreofeach @ 8:44 pm
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From Smitten Kitchen and America’s Test Kitchen.

Scone

I am not a baker, but if there is one thing I feel like I should inherently be able to bake, it is a good scone.  I am partly Scottish – from my freckled, white skin to my love of its terriers, ponies, and cats, not to mention those kilts.  Yes, those kilts….  Anyway, I’ve made tough scones, chewy scones, crumbly and dry scones.  My MacBeth ancestors (no joke) were crying, “Ach!”  And then came the Smitten Kitchen, a Brooklyn Jew who loves to cook and does it so darn well, and she inspired me to try scones one more time.   And would you, and my MacBeth clansmen and -women, believe that I can now confidently make a light, fluffy, not-too-sweet scone that is worthy of clotted cream and lemon curd?  These quickly became a Sunday evening tradition during the airing of Downton Abbey on PBS.

Downton Abbey

Tell me there’s not a better way to enjoy period dramas than with a delicious scone and a great big cuppa.

 

Ingredients

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably a low-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup currants (I used dried cranberries, and chopped them into smaller bits)
1 cup heavy cream (I have used whole milk with wonderful results.)
juice and zest from one lemon
a few tablespoons of confectioners sugar

Directions

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.

4. Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by either a) pressing the dough into an 8-inch circle on a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or bench scraper.

6. Place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Combine lemon juice, zest, and enough confectioners sugar to form a drizzle-able liquid.  Drizzle over the warmish scones.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Cucumber and Melon Salad

Filed under: Fruits and Vegetables,Soups and Salads — alittlemoreofeach @ 9:34 am
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In 2012, we joined a local organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in Tampa.  Every other week, we’d pick up bags of wonderfully fresh vegetables, some of which I’d never heard of before.  Tatsoi? Dino Kale? Hakurei turnips?

Needless to say, our palettes expanded, and sometimes I struggled to find ways to use our produce.  Like the radishes.  One or two, I know how to handle (chop up in a salad – easy enough!), but eight? Ten? Thankfully, I found two different cold salad recipes through Pinterest that allowed me to use the radishes in really delicious ways.  This one is based on a Weight Watchers recipe and is such a wonderful and refreshing summer dish.  Tangy citrus, fragrant mint, sweet melon, crisp and slightly spicy radishes all combine into a beautiful and healthy salad.  While the original recipe calls for the veggies and melon to be sliced on a mandolin, I chose to dice the cucumbers and melon and thinly slice the radishes.  Scooping the melon with a baller would also work.  The recipe also calls for honeydew, and as you can see in the photo I sometimes use cantaloupe.  They are equally delicious.

melon salad

Sometimes I deconstruct the salad for little palettes that aren’t keen on radishes or mint yet. They inhale the melon and cucumber.

 

Ingredients

1 medium English cucumber

6-8 fresh radishes

1/2 medium honeydew melon

1/2 cups mint leaves, julienned

1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice

1 Tbl sugar

 

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill for at least two hours before serving.

 

 

Balsamic Glaze

Filed under: Appetizers,Main Dishes — alittlemoreofeach @ 8:37 am
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balsamic glaze

 

Stephanie got this recipe from a recent grad of Johnson and Wales.  It is easy and tastes wonderful.

 

 

Ingredients

2 cups balsamic vinegar (not expensive)
2 cups Port wine

 

Directions
Place vinegar and wine in a heavy bottom saucepan.  Heat at medium high until simmering; lower temp slightly and reduce liquid by 50-75% (4 cups turns into 1-2 cups).  The longer it reduces, the thicker and sweeter it becomes.  Serve drizzled on fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, sliced strawberries, ice cream, or straight from a spoon.

 

Poinsettia Cocktails

Filed under: Drinks — alittlemoreofeach @ 8:25 am
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Stephanie made these for both Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012.  They are festive looking and very tasty, too.  Each time she thought she was only going to make one batch, but guests clamored for another.  Only running out of vodka put a stop to making a third.

poinsettia cocktail

Ingredients
1 bottle of Champagne or any sparkling wine, chilled
1 bottle cranberry juice (the real stuff), chilled
1/2 bottle orange-flavored vodka, chilled
1 cup fresh cranberries, frozen
1 orange, sliced
bag of ice, quantity as needed

Directions

Mix the first three ingredients together in a large pitcher.  Pour into ice-filled glasses, garnishing with fresh cranberries and a slice of orange.