October 26, 2016

Admitting it is Autumn Lentil Salad


1 6.7-oz tin smoked herring in oil*
2 tablespoons good quality apple cider vinegar
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
1 bunch French breakfast radishes, thinly sliced
8-9 oz cooked beets, halved and sliced
8 oz cooked Beluga lentils**
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper


Drain half of the oil from the fish into a small bowl, whisk in vinegar and spices. Discard the remaining oil. Chop the fish. Add to the bowl along with the lentils and onions. Serve at room temperature.

*I buy mine at Trader Joe's but they are easy to find
**many stores, include Target, sell these fully cooked in vacuum-sealed packets. Simply heat them according to package instructions.

My thoughts:
This is a difficult thing for me to do but I have to do it. We are nearly a month into autumn. The fact that today was the first day I had to wear tall boots (no tights yet!) instead of sandals or ankle boots really drove it home for me. That and the fact that all is left new in the ground are radishes, beets, squash and some hardy greens. So this that in mind, I came home and made this for dinner. It, like quite a few things I seem to enjoy, combines a few ingredients people are skeptical of: radishes, beets, canned smoked fish, lentils...but again, I swear it is really good! Slightly pungent (eat among loved ones) but it really comes together to make a savory, smoky veggie packed salad that makes a lovely lunch or light dinner.

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October 17, 2016

Smoked Turkey and Greens Pot Pie

1 cup frozen Lima beans
1 cup peeled, diced Russet potatoes
1 bunch kale, chopped
1/2 cup flour
1 carrot, cut into coins
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 parsnips, cut into coins
1 onion, diced
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups cubed, smoked turkey breast
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or turkey stock
1 3/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 egg, beaten
freshly ground black pepper

puff pastry (if using defrosted frozen, you will only need one sheet)


Preheat oven to 350.

Melt the butter in a large skillet with high sides, a large saucepan or a stove top and oven safe 2-quart casserole. Add the onion, garlic, parsnip, celery, carrots, Lima beans, potatoes, and kale. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk, bay leaf, and stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces and thickens a bit, about 10-15 minutes. Fish out the bay leaf. Add the turkey, herbs and spices. Stir to evenly distribute all ingredients. Cook for 2 minutes. Divide into large, oven-safe ramekins or pour into a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Leave  1/4 to 1/2 inch of room at the top.

Top with a layer of puff pastry. Pierce with a knife. Brush with egg. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

My thoughts:
I bought this whole, smoked Butterball turkey ages ago at Aldi and stuck in the small extra freezer we have in our basement. It sat there forever because we never had room in the fridge to defrost it. One of the only lucky things to come out of the fridge breaking and throwing out all of our food is that we now have tons of space because we have no food. So I defrosted the turkey (and transferred all the frozen stuff from the basement into the fridge freezer and defrosted that so I have that to fill too!) on the empty shelf. I didn't really know what to expect but it was really good! It was super moist and juicy (there were even enough juices in the cavity to make a quick turkey stock with!) and while smoky, it wasn't overpowering.

One of our favorite things to do with smoked turkey legs is make greens and while I had kale from my produce box order, I wanted to make something different with it. So I came up with the idea to combine greens and another favorite way to use up cooked poultry; pot pie! OMG, it was so good! Creamy without being too rich, savory and smoky and just really really good. Normally I put peas in my pot pie but since I was going Southern-inspired, I used Lima beans instead. They held up really well and added to the "packed with vegetables" pot pie I was going for. I hate having to make a side dish after making a time-consuming recipe so the more vegetables, the better! We have been so busy this summer it was good to get back into the kitchen with my partner in marriage and crime and make a fun meal! Pot pies are simple to make but time consuming so leave yourself more time than you'd think for the prep.

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October 14, 2016

Smoked Olive Egg Salad

7 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4-1/3 cup sliced smoked olives*
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard (powder)
freshly ground black pepper


Slice eggs in half and remove the yolks. Place the yolks in a small bowl. Set aside.

Remove one egg's worth of white. Discard or eat. Chop up the remaining egg whites. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the onion and olives.

Place the mayonnaise and spices in the small bowl with the yolks. Mash with a fork until smooth. Pour over the chopped egg mixture. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*I get these at our local smokery but they are also available in specialty or gourmet stores

My thoughts:
It has been an unfortunately eventful last few months. One of the most recent disasters was our refrigerator going up resulting in the loss of hundreds of dollars of food including tons of beef, seafood, all of the produce I harvested and frozen this summer, and every thing in the fridge except cured meats, olives, butter and cheese. We are slowly trying to get things back in stock but between not having a fridge for nearly a week, visiting a peanut farm, the apple butter festival two hours away and Matt's school schedule I've barely cooked in weeks. I finally broke down and made this for our lunches. Luckily the smoked olives I had bought at the smokery survived and they add a ton of flavor to this easy egg salad. I bet regular olives would be good too if you can't find smoked--just swap the paprika for smoked paprika.

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September 16, 2016

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Portobellos, Zucchini and Potatoes


3 lbs chicken thighs
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 super fine flour (like Wondra)
2 zucchini (I used goldenrod zucchini), cut into 1/2-inch thick half circles
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 portobello mushroom caps, large dice
1 bunch green chard, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 lb baby potatoes (I used a mix of white, red and blue potatoes), halved
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400.

Thoroughly coat the chicken with lemon pepper and flour. Place skin-side down in a hot, oven safe, dry skillet. Cook for 10-20 minutes or until well browned. Remove to a paper-towel lined platter. Drain off fat, leaving 1-2 tablespoons behind. Add the onions, zucchini, mushrooms, chard, and garlic and saute until the onion is softened and translucent.  Season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin-side up, on top of the vegetables. Bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Serve immediately.

Note: If you have more vegetables than room in your pan, transfer them to an appropriately sized baking dish and then top with chicken and bake.

My thoughts:
Last weekend we went to one of my favorite food festivals, the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival. Kennett Square is known as the mushroom capital of the world and they put on quite a festival! Not only can you buy mushrooms (we bought a five lb case of HUGE portobellos!) but they have all sorts of mushroom food on offer. This year we shared a candy cap mushroom cupcake, a mushroom tamale (the best!), a Mediterranean burrito with mushrooms and pork, fried mushrooms and mushroom-free Dole Whip. In previous years we've had mushroom ice pops! Anyway, we brought home a ton of mushrooms so now it is my job to use them up!

This is my second favorite way to cook chicken thighs. I love Maryland Fried Chicken the best but we can't always eat fried chicken! This method gives you crispy skin thanks to the browning step but requires zero extra fat. Then you layer it on a bed of vegetables. The whole thing bakes in about 40 minutes and you are left with both perfectly cooked chicken and a side dish all in one pan.

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September 14, 2016

Late Summer Succotash


2 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 ear's worth of corn kernels
1 quart fresh lima beans, shucked
1 pint okra,  cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 medium tomatoes, diced
freshly ground black pepper

Heat some oil or bacon grease in a large pan. Add the corn, lima beans, okra, onion, green onion and garlic and saute until the vegetables are tender. Add in the tomatoes and cook until just heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in bacon.

My thoughts:
The fact that summer is ending makes me sad. I know some people love fall (and puzzlingly, everything pumpkin spice) but to me, fall means that my least favorite time of the year is right around the corner. Luckily we have a few more days of summer left and here in Baltimore at least, a few of my favorite foods are still in season. I picked up some heirloom tomatoes and lima beans from the tiny market in my neighborhood and decided to put them into this simple succotash. It comes together quickly--I dispensed with the sauteeing the onion first--and makes a great side dish to pretty much anything while showcase the last bit of summer produce.

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September 12, 2016

Tahini-Dill Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

5 oz canned solid albacore tuna in water, drained
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared tahini sauce
3 tablespoon minced red onion
1 tablespoon nonpareil capers
1 tablespoon minced dill
freshly ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes (beefsteak works well)

In a small bowl, break up the tuna into small chunks. Mix in mayonnaise, tahini sauce, red onion, capers, dill and pepper until well combined. Set aside.

Core the tomatoes. scoop out some of the flesh to accommodate the tuna. Fill with tuna. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
Tomato season is by far my favorite season. They are still going strong in Baltimore and I took a trip down to my local  farmers market to pick up some big enough to stuff. I think tuna stuffed tomatoes were the just about first thing I remember making as a child. I want to say I got the idea from my Strawberry Shortcake's Cooking Fun cookbook but I'm not 100% sure. They didn't have tahini sauce in them back then though! I updated the recipe just a bit to include tahini sauce and dill, two of my favorite flavors in tuna salad. Tomatoes are still in season here so I used some big, juicy ones from the farm stand. Just take care to use sturdy tomatoes like beefsteak that can be hollowed out without poking a hole through the side. I like to serve them immediately so the tuna doesn't get watered down but if you have to travel with them, hollow out the tomato at home and fill with the tuna at your destination.

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September 08, 2016

Fairytale Eggplant Capicola Baked Frittata


1 lb fairytale eggplants, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped chives
10 eggs
1/4 lb thin sliced lean capicola, cut into slightly less than 1/4-inch strips
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil


Note: This part can be made one day ahead and refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 350. Place the eggplant on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet, skin-side-down. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic, in a medium pan using olive oil, until the onion is soft and translucent. Allow the eggplant and onion/garlic to cool. Refrigerate if making ahead then bring to room temperature prior to the next step.

For the next step/next day:
Preheat oven to 350. Beat together the eggs, milk, Parmesan, chives, salt and pepper until fluffy*. Fold in the room temperature eggplant, onions/garlic and capicola. Oil an 8x8-inch baking dish. Pour the mixture into the dish and bake for 40 minutes or until fully set in the middle. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Slice into 9 squares and serve.

*I love my egg beater for this task.
My thoughts:
This is one of my favorite dishes of the summer. It uses chives from my garden and my favorite fairytale eggplant in a way that is even easier than a regular frittata because there is zero stove-top time. Fairytale eggplant is my favorite eggplant variety because it is a. cute b. has tiny seeds c. doesn't require much work to become delicious and d. zero bitterness. Adding to the vaguely Italian theme is capicola, one of my favorites of the Italian deli meats. I get sweet capicola which is well, sweet and has a light, hammy flavor. The version we buy at our local Italian market has no visible fat so if your capicola does, feel free to cut the extra fat off before adding it to the frittata.

The frittata is great reheated, as well. We like having extra for lunches the next day.  I normally bake mine because I am home but a toaster oven or even microwave works just fine.

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