Grilled Vegetable Omelet

Grilledveggieomelet

Cooking in my kitchen has been quite different in recent weeks for two reasons.  First, we had our house on the market, selling it days after listing. Second, I am on a medically prescribed restricted diet:  No tomatoes or sauces, no spices, no citrus, little or no fats, and only certain breads. We were eating more meals in restaurants, so the second  was complicated by the first. Since we needed to be out of the house often for showings, inspections, etc we still needed to eat out making menu choices more limited, and certainly more thoughtful.  This week, Joe brought in a take out meal which I had chosen resulting in leftovers – a  portion of grilled chicken breast and a larger portion of grilled vegetables. I decided to make this grilled vegetable omelet which was so good I will make it again, including grilling the veggies myself..OK, I admit, I added some chopped chicken too!

Grilled Vegetable Omelet    (serves 2).

4 large eggs.

1 Tablespoon water

1 cup or more chopped grilled vegetables (I used zucchini, broccoli, onions, and sweet red pepper).

Olive oil to coat the omelet pan (I used our vintage 8-inch curved side iron skillet)

Over moderate setting, heat a scant amount of oil in omelet pan or skillet

Add the eggs whipped with 1 Tablespoon water, and cook, lifting edges and tilting pan to allow raw egg to pour under the edge.  Continue until almost done, but still shiny, smoothing any liquid egg toward edge.  Add chopped vegetables and spread evenly over half the egg mixture.  Turn off heat.  Fold omelet in half, pressing slightly to seal edges. Egg will continue to cook.  Slide onto serving plate and garnish as desired.  I usually cut the halves and serve, but you can leave the omelet on the servng plate in order to serve yourself at table. We had this for breakfast, but it would be nice for a light lunch or supper as well.

 

Braised Fennel

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When I come home from my Saturday morning visits to the Sugar Land Farmer’s Market, the temptation to photograph my finds results in pictures like these.  The fennel, leeks, and spinach lying on my counter here all wound up in different recipes and were delicious.  I sauteed the spinach with a little olive oil and garlic and served with balsamic vinegar.  The leeks went into a quiche. But these beautiful fennel bulbs were the star..  I only discovered fennel a few years ago. We like it raw in salads, roasted, baked with sliced potatoes in an iron skillet, and added to a variety of vegetables. Fennel has a sweet, anise or licorice flavor that’s strongest when it’s raw but much more mellow when it’s cooked.

Most fennel recipes call for just the white bulb. When thinly sliced, the fennel bulb is great in salads — it’s crunchy and slightly sweet and subtly licorice-like, but not as pungent as  black licorice candy. The stalks can be used to make stock, or chopped and sauteed with other vegetables in a mirepoix (a typical French blend of onion, celery and carrot) for a soup or stew. The fronds can be added to salads or used to garnish dishes.

Try this braised fennel!

Braised Fennel

    • 2 fennel bulbs (sometimes called anise; 10 to 12 oz each) with fronds
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup water

Mini Almond Croissants

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One of our favorite treats is almond croissants from the bakery at Le Madeleine.  These little croissants come close to the taste without the trip into town to purchase the flaky bakery product. I usually have crescent roll dough and sliced almonds in the refrigerator because I use both often. Recently I had a tube of almond paste bought for a different recipe and changed my mind.  These tasty minature croissants are the result of “shopping from the frig and pantry” – which I try to do often.

1 can of refrigerated crescent roll dough

almond paste

sliced almonds

Preheat oven according to instructions on the crescent roll package.  Unwrap and separate dough into triangles, placing several inches apart on a baking sheet.  On each dough triangle, squeeze a generous amount of almond paste.  Roll, starting with large end of triangle.  Press ends together to avoid losing filling during baking.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Shrimp in Pastry Shells

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On our first wedding anniversary (over 52 years ago) we lived in Corvallis, Oregon. Our budget did not allow restaurant meals and I was still a beginner cook. But I served Joe Shrimp in Pastry Shells on our wedding china and we still consider it one of our fanciest dishes. Somewhere I still have the index card on which I taped the simple recipe clipped from a magazine, using Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp soup and canned shrimp.  These days, I do not buy the little shrimp in a can, but I do keep a bag of frozen peeled and deveined shrimp as a freezer staple. This version is how that first anniversary shrimp n shells dish has changed, definitely for the better.  However, Pepperidge Farm still makes their wonderful Puff Pastry Shells that make it so easy to pull puff pastry out of my oven for the base of a wonderful entree.

Shrimp in Pastry Shells

Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry shells (6 shells)

1/2 to 1 pound medium size shrimp, shelled and deveined (fresh or thawed from frozen) We like plenty of shrimp.

2 Tablespoons butter,

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 can Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp soup

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill,

1/4 cup Sherry

Bake Puff Pastry according to instructions on package..  Be sure to save the discs of pastry that you remove from the top after baking to top each serving. Place each pastry on serving plate, with tops on the side.

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in saute pan, add mushrooms and simmer until mushrooms have cooked down and liquid begins to reduce. Add soup  plus only 1/2 cup milk and simmer until well blended and beginning to thicken.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring, 4-5 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through. Blend in dill and sherry and ladle into pastry shells.  Top each with a puff pastry topper.

 

 

 

Dessert Meringue with Raspberries and Ice Cream

 

When we lived in San Antonio early in our marriage,Joe introduced me to one of his commanding officers when he served in the U.S. Army at Fort Baker, California in the 60’s.By the time I met them, Major Kneesy and his wife lived in officer’s housing on base at Fort Sam Houston.  We visited with them in the living room of their home, and Mrs. Kneesy served us coffee and dessert.  The dessert was a small meringue shell filled with ice cream topped with a drizzle of chocolate. It was the most elegant dessert I had ever eaten, and I fell in love with meringues.  She told me she kept some in the freezer so she would have them to offer on occasions such as our visit. A young bride and fledging cook, I was of course, duly impressed. I have since made them many times myself.

Later, when we lived in Indonesia, I was introduced to Pavlovas, large meringues topped with whipped cream and mixed tropical fruits and my admiration of meringues increased. The ingredient list is very simple, preparation requires an electric mixer and patience, but this remains one of my very favorite things to serve guests in my home for dessert.  The variety of toppings makes it very versatile.

Recently I learned that this is a Downton Abbey dessert. In one episode, Mrs. Patmore the cook makes Raspberry Meringues for the Crowley’s and their guests. However, her eyesight is failing and when reaching for sugar, she measures salt, resulting in inedible meringues!

Dessert Meringue with Raspberries and Ice Cream

5 egg whites

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla.

Prepare 2 large baking sheets by lining with Silpat or parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Let egg whites sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes.  Place in bowl of electric mixer, and begin beating slowly.  When egg whites begin to froth, add cream of tartar. Increase mixer speed to medium and continue to beat until egg whites will hold a hard peak.  Begin to add sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time and beat at medium-high speed after each addition until all sugar has been added.  Turn mixer speed on high and beat for 5 to 6 minutes until egg whites are glossy and hold sharp peaks.  Remove and fold in salt and vanilla.

Meringues will spread, so do not crowd on baking sheets, adding 6 to each sheet.  With a large spoon, add dollops of meringue and spread slightly to 3-inch circles.  Make an indention in the middle of each by pressing with the back of the spoon. Place baking sheets into preheated oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Reduce heat by 25 degrees if they begin to brown. Turn oven off, leaving meringues in oven with door shut for at least 2 hours.  Place in air tight containers and when ready to serve, fill with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and top with raspberries or other berries of your choice.

Note:  If using whipped cream, a nice variation is the addition of  a splash of orange liqueur.

 

 

 

 

Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini

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Every cookbook has its own version of this dish.  Our own favorite through the years was a recipe given to us by Jean McGuire, who was our back door neighbor when we lived near San Antonio in Kirby, Texas, in 1966. This version is also a keeper.  This is a great dish to make when you have leftover rotisserie chicken and pasta.

Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini

3 large chicken breast halves, cooked

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

about 4 cups cooked spaghetti (half a pound  uncooked)

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (may use canned, sliced)

1/2 large green pepper, chopped

1/2 large red pepper, chopped

1 onion, choppped

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup flour

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup half and half

1 can cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup sherry

3/4 cup sliced almonds

paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook chicken and pasta and drain. (I use rotisserie chicken and leftover spaghetti noodles when possible, but if you are using raw chicken and uncooked pasta, you can cook those while you assemble and prep the other ingredients.

Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.  Shred chicken.  Saute mushrooms, pepper, garlic, and onion in butter in a large sautepan.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper, stirring constantly.  Cook for one minute, stirring gently. Add shredded chicken, mushroom soup, cheese, and sherry.  Mix well.  Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and bake 25 minutes.  Scatter almonds on top and continue baking for 5-10 minutes longerl

 

 

Orange Glazed Salmon with Rosemary

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We tried yet another excellent recipe recently. This pan roasted salmon glazed with fresh orange sauce and layered with the flavor and fragrance of rosemary from our garden is one we will repeat soon.

Orange Glazed Salmon with Rosemary

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 (6-8 oz) skinless salmon fillets, (leave out at room temperature 10 minute)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary plus a few sprigs for garnish

1/2  cup chicken broth, plus 1 Tablespoon( to be mixed with cornstarch)

2 teaspoons orange zest

1 cup fresh orange juice

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 Tablespoons honey

3 teaspoons cornstarcheat

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Season both sides of salmon with salt and pepper. Place in hot olive oil and sear until browned on both sides and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness of salmon.Transfer to a plate, leaving oil in pan.

Add garlic and rosemary to pan and saute 20 seconds, then add 1/2 cup chicken broth and simmer to reduce. Stir in orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice and honey. In a small bowl whisk together remaining 1 Tablespoon chicken broth with cornstarch.

Pour into pan, season sauce with salt and pepper to taste, then bring to a boil and allow to thicken 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return salmon to pan, spoon sauce over salmon. Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary and orange slices.

Colcannon

ColcannonSt. Patrick’s Day 2016!  No green beer here, just some good hearty Irish food, combining 3 favorites – cabbage, potatoes, and leeks!  We cut a small head of cabbage growing in our garden, peeled some potatoes and cleaned 3 leeks and before long, this tasty lunch was on the table.  I diced some bits of ham and bacon to pass in a bowl separately for topping, and baked some 2 ingredient yogurt bread to serve with it – what a feast!

Colcannon

1 small head of cabbage, outer leaves included if they are not too tough

4 medium potatoes, or about a pound, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 leeks (use a bunch of green onions if you do not have leeks)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

diced ham and/or bacon, optional, for topping

Wash and cut cabbage into pieces.  Bring to simmer in salted water over medium heat and cook until tender. Remove from water and set aside, keeping water to add potatoes.  Cook potatoes until fork tender.  While potatoes are cooking, carefully wash and slice leeks, both white and green parts, and drop into bowl of water, separating rings and letting any additional sandy bits fall to the bottom.  Lift leeks out with fingertips (pouring just gets the sand back on) and place in a sauce pan with 1 cup milk.  Simmer in milk until leeks are tender,

Cut cabbage into smaller pieces.  I do this by placing the cabbage in the large bowl I intend to serve in, and cutting them with kitchen shears.  Drain and rough mash the potatoes (there will be some chunks) and add to the cabbage along with the leeks and the milk they have cooked in.  Blend well, make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour melted butter into this. Pass a small bowl of diced bacon and ham cooked crisp for topping. Serve with a nice crusty loaf of bread.

 

Play Dough!

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Among the inedible things cooked in our kitchen through the years is play dough!  Our boys always loved making it when they were little.  Nora discovered the fun of “cooking” it instead of opening a store bought can last week.  Since then, she has played with it over and over using hands and fingers and various lids and rollers for making new shapes.  I pulled our old frayed recipe out of the back of the recipe box and used it, but I see that now there are several ways to make it, including one using Jello!  Tried and true works for mel

Homemade Play Dough

1 cup salt

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups water

1 Tablespoon cooking oil

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

food coloring

peppermint or lemon extract (optional)

Place in sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Cook for a few more minutes after it begins to pull away from the pan.  Turn out onto waxed paper or a silpat baking sheet and knead until smooth.  Keep in covered container when not in use.

Texas Pecan Pound Cake

20160303_151528I read this morning that today, March 4, is National Pound Cake Day. I must have known it was coming because yesterday I pulled out an old favorite recipe for pound cake and baked it. As with most pound cakes, the list of ingredients and mixing are fairly simple.  This one’s claim to fame is the addition of a cup of Texas pecans.  The recipe was given to me over 40 years ago by my neighbor on McCree Road, Jean Merrill. She wrote it on a note pad from her kitchen and I still pull out the yellowed slip of paper and use it, remembering what a good neighbor she was and how much our chldren enjoyed playing together. I believe the recipe itself came from Jean’s father, who owned a restaurant in San Antonio.

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In the middle of heated campaigns in a presidential election year, I smile when I see the notepad, likely a campaign freebie from John Traeger, who served as State Senator from District 21 in Texas.  Mr. Traeger’s daughter Cam and her husband previously owned the house we lived in when Jean gave me the recipe.  They had been friends of Jean and Ralph, who became our neighbors and friends when we bought the house in 1972.  My goodness, the memories that baking a cake can bring to surface!

We like the addition of a generous splash of good vanilla extract!

Texas Pecan Pound Cake

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

5 eggs

1 cup chopped pecans.

As you can see, I was given a minimum of directions, which I consider a compliment.  Jean knew that I knew the order and manner of mixing!  I will expand instructions but after you have baked this cake as many times as I have, you won’t need them!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a tube or bundt pan. With electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating after each.  Add flour gradually.  Stir in pecans and spoon into pan.  Bake 55 minutes.