June 14, 2018

Zucchini Slice with Turkey and Chorizo



Ingredients:
2 cups finely shredded zucchini, drained
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup cooked, cubed turkey breast (can sub chicken)
2 oz thinly sliced Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
5 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

Note: this part can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

Squeeze dry zucchini if needed. Saute the onion and zucchini in a skillet using a small amount of olive oil until the onion is translucent and any water has evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  (I actually did this step, cooled it and added the cut up meat and cheese to the container earlier then did the batter-making, adding the meat/veggie mixture part at dinnertime)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray with cooking spray or grease an 8x8 inch pan.  Set aside.


In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, flour and baking powder until pancake-like batter forms. Fold in the zucchini, onion, turkey, chorizo, cheese, and spices.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until fully cooked (just few dry crumbs when a toothpick is inserted in the center) and golden brown on the bottom. Allow to sit in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack before slicing and serving.


My thoughts:
This recipe is great for using up leftovers (I just used leftover marinated boneless, skinless turkey breast but rotisserie chicken would work too), summer vegetables (I have a ton of Vidalia onions and zucchini right now) and some chorizo for oompf in a reasonably quick way. I bought the chorizo when I was trying out Amazon Fresh awhile back but any store or deli that sells fancy Spanish or Italian meats should have it. Capicola would also make a good choice.

It's sort of based on the old school Betty Crocker/Bisquick "Impossible Pie" where you mix a bunch of ingredients (ground beef and some spice packet generally) and Bisquick to make an "impossible" pie where it magically forms a crust and topping. It's also similar to zucchini slice which I came across when reading an Australian book which is a sliced zucchini pie/bread type thing*.

Anyway, after adding turkey and chorizo it is basically a whole sandwich in square form. It's just as simple as a baked frittata but a little more substantial and different. I think it would be great as a brunch dish or a light lunch or dinner. We had it for dinner (I prepped some during the day to speed up dinner making) with just some veggies/fruit for a side as it is practically a whole meal unto itself.

The texture of this dish is surprising and very, very good. It is light and fluffy like a souffle yet still moist and tender.

*I made a version of zucchini slice with Old Bay a couple of years ago if you are interested

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June 04, 2018

Baltimore-style Fried Oyster Po'Boys





Ingredients:

for the oysters:
2 pints oysters
1 1/3 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup Old Bay (low sodium okay)
canola oil for frying

for the Old Bay remoulade:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons dill relish
1 teaspoon Old Bay
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (powder)
juice of 1/2 lemon


to serve:
sub rolls (I used  Amoroso’s club sized rolls)
sliced tomato
shredded iceberg lettuce

Directions:

For the oysters:

Heat 1-2 inches of canola oil in large, heavy-bottomed skillet. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the cornmeal mix and Old Bay. Do not add extra salt! Dredge the oysters in the mixture to thoroughly coat. Fry oysters in the oil, for about 4 minutes on each side, depending on size. Drain on paper towel-lined plates


For the remoulade: (can be made a day ahead)

Place all ingredients in a small bowl, mix together with a fork.

Assembly:

Spread the remoulade on both sides of each roll, top with lettuce. Line the roll with tomato slices and fill with oysters.

Serves: 4-6
My thoughts:
Oysters have always been a huge part of Baltimore, we had a ton of canneries in the harbor and there were even oyster pirates in the Chesapeake Bay! Local oysters (these were from Virginia) are easy to find locally and are quite affordable.

I love po'boys, especially oyster ones so I thought I'd Baltimore-fy it a bit and add Old Bay because in Baltimore, you just have to add Old Bay to anything to make it "Baltimore-style". It's true. We have Old Bay ice cream and candy here.

To make the sandwiches a little easier to eat, I used "club" rolls but you could use a full sized roll. I also used self-rising cornmeal mix which I feel gives the breading a lighter feel somehow. I don't question it. Between the Old Bay remoulade and the Old Bay batter, these po'boys are super flavorful and dare I say---slightly better than the oyster po'boys that don't have Old Bay? Sorry, New Orleans! We did give you the snowball so let's call it even.

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June 01, 2018

Knackwurst & Summer Squash Sheet Pan Supper





Ingredients:

1 lb white or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch thick coins
1 Vidalia onion, cut into half-moon slices
1 1/2 teaspoons hot or sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 lb knackwurst, sliced into 1/2 inch thick coins
1 lb yellow squash, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch thick half-moons
salt
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the potatoes, onions, and carrots in a single layer. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with spices. Roast 10 minutes or until the potatoes are softened. Add the sausage and squash and stir to coat in spices/oil. Arrange all ingredients so they are in a single layer. Return to the oven and continue to roast 10-20 minutes or until the sausages are browned and all vegetables are fork-tender. You can briefly broil to help brown if desired, prior to serving.










My thoughts:

Late spring has been exceedingly rainy and we haven't had a chance to break out the grill once! I keep buying things to grill and then having to freeze them or think of other ways to use them up. I had bought some knackwurst at Aldi and they just sat in my fridge for ages (luckily sausages have great expiration dates!). The rain doesn't seem to be going away any time soon so one night when I was trying to put off grocery shopping I thought I'd finally make them.

I'm glad I did! Not only were the sausages tasty, this is a super simple dinner that really tasted summery despite being made entirely indoors. In-season yellow squash and Vidalia onions really helped turn it into a complete meal. The paprika and celery seed tied the flavors together and the whole thing took about half an hour. Can't beat that!

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May 30, 2018

Steak & Greens Quiche




Ingredients:

for the crust:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used cheese bread)

for the filling:
4 cups (loose) bite-sized pieces of red and green kale
1 bunch leeks, sliced (tender parts only)
1 spring onion, chopped
1 large portobello mushroom, cubed
7 oz leftover steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 lb
3/4 cup shredded Gruyère
salt
freshly ground black pepper


spring onion greens for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium bowl, stir together the crumbs and oil until the mixture sticks together

Press the mixture to form a crust in a pie plate or quiche pan or tart pan (I just use a Pyrex pie plate). Bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool on wire rack.

Reduce oven to 325.


Meanwhile, saute the leek, spring onion, kale, and mushroom in a small amount of oil, bacon grease or butter until the greens are wilted and the mushroom is softened. Allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the steak. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together (I used my hand egg beater) the milk and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into the prepared pan.

 Bake 45-50 minutes or until fully cooked. If there is water on the surface of the quiche when it is fully cooked, carefully blot it with a cloth or paper towel. Cool on wire rack.




My thoughts:
I've been on a bit of a quiche kick lately and this is one of the good ones. Quiche is traditionally a good way to use up leftovers and this one is no exception! I had an odd amount of steaks the other day for dinner and ended up with one leftover. Normally I'd just make a sandwich or something but I had some kale I didn't know what to do with so why not combine the two? This is definitely a heartier quiche thanks to the steak and bold greens but I think it makes it a better fit for dinner than a lot of the lighter quiches out there. I made a breadcrumb crust again and I still love it better than a traditional crust. It's so quick and easy yet super flavorful. You really can't ask for more and it takes quiche from being something I really need to plan for to something I can pull together in just a few minutes before baking.

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May 24, 2018

Chicken Schnitzel Burgers


Ingredients:

1 lb ground chicken breast
1  1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon paprika
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons nonpareil capers
3/4 cup breadcrumbs

to serve:
pretzel rolls
sliced red onion
hamburger dill pickle chips
sliced tomato
mayo + mustard (I used this German mustard)


Directions:

Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl or plate. Set aside.
Mix together the chicken, lemon pepper, zest, paprika and capers together in a medium bowl until all ingredients are evenly divided. Divide into 4 patties.

Dredge the patties in the breadcrumbs. Panfry, turning once, until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel-lined plates Serve immediately on pretzel rolls with toppings of your choice.
My thoughts:
This burger was the idea of my husband who wondered if we breaded chicken burgers, would it taste like chicken schnitzel. Since we had ground chicken on hand, I thought I'd give it a try. Chicken schnitzel is often served with lemon slices and even a lemon-caper sauce so I thought I'd add those flavors directly into the burger. Ground chicken is pretty bland so it really takes well to the addition of virtually any flavor. Lemon pepper is a great shortcut because not only it has lemon and pepper (obvi) but it also has salt, granulated onion, and garlic powder in it eliminating the need for a lot of spices. I added some zest to give it a fresher taste but in a pinch, you could leave it out. I love capers so of course, I loved them in this too.

I don't know if the breadcrumbs really gave it too much schnitzel flare but it really helped the burgers brown evenly and hold their shape. Ground chicken is much "wetter" than ground beef or pork so it has a tendency to be a little trickier to mold and to flip in the pan but these stayed perfectly formed. I'm definitely trying this trick again.

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May 21, 2018

Lemon Ricotta Cookies





Ingredients:


for the cookies:
1 1/3 cups  flour
1/2  teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
4 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
8 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon's worth)
zest of one lemon


for the glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon's worth)
zest of one lemon

Directions:

for the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.


In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and mix the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg,  ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients until a light, fluffy batter forms.

Spoon the dough (I used a medium cookie scoop for large-ish cookies) onto the lined baking sheets, placing each cookie about 1 inch apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until they are just beginning to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven. Carefully remove to a wire rack and cool 20-30 minutes.

for the glaze:

Place the wire rack (with the cookies still on it!) over a cookie sheet to catch drips.

Whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth glaze forms. Spoon 1 teaspoon glaze over each cookie, spreading to coat if desired.  Let the glaze set at least 1-2 hours before packing into storage containers.



Yield: about 2 dozen cookies, can be easily doubled

My thoughts:
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that last week I got an opportunity to check out Giada de Laurentiis' new restaurant here in Baltimore. She was there talking about her vision and even served me personally pasta! It was a lot of fun. Anyway, after a few of the guests had left, I heard her asking the staff if we were going to be served dessert. They didn't seem to have planned it but she told them they had to serve us something sweet (the restaurant wasn't officially open yet, this was a preview) and within a few minutes a few plates of lemon-ricotta cookies were brought out. OMG. I am such a chocolate cookie person but these were seriously some of the best cookies I have ever had. Light and fluffy yet substantial and with a great tart lemon-ricotta flavor. I would have dumped them in my purse had there been any extras.

The next day I went on my usual trip to Aldi (plug for my Aldi fan blog here) and picked up some lemons and ricotta so I could recreate the cookies on my own. A little experimenting and I came up with this recipe. The cookies are a little bit bigger than the ones I had at GDL Italian thanks to the size of the cookie scoop I used. It is a fluffy, sort of cake-like batter so I felt like a cookie scoop was needed vs just using a spoon. If you want smaller cookies use a smaller cookie scoop or try using a spoon. It really is up to you! The trick to getting the perfect lemon-ricotta flavor is using full fat ricotta and a lot of lemon zest and juice. Citrus has a tendency to "bake out" of baked goods--this is why extracts are used in a lot of recipes--but the zest retains the flavor a lot better so don't be tempted to skip it even though it means using actual lemons and not just bottled juice. I developed the recipe so you should only need (and use) 2 full lemons, I know citrus can be pricey this time of year and I hate waste.

If lemon-y, slightly tart, tangy cookies with a soft, almost cake-like texture intrigue you, these are the cookies for you! Seriously, one of the best cookies I've made or even had ever! And I have made a ton of cookies and basically plan vacations around bakeries so this really means something.


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May 18, 2018

Elotes-Inspired Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole



Ingredients:

1 medium-large cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons Tajín Clásico Seasoning
1/3-1/2 cup grated cotija
1/3-1/2 cup shredded queso quesadilla
1 bunch scallions or green onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used breadcrumbs from a loaf of cheese bread but any would work)

Directions:

Steam cauliflower until just barely fork-tender. Cool completely. (this can be done up to one day ahead)

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the cooled cauliflower in a medium-sized bowl. Add the sour cream, Tajín, cheese, and scallion. Stir until evenly distributed. Lightly grease a 1 1/2 quart baking pan and pour the mixture in the pan. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.



My thoughts:
I had an entirely different idea as to what I was doing with this cauliflower but the gouda I was planning on using was unexpectedly moldy so I had to switch gears. I didn't really grow up eating casseroles but as an adult, I've found I really enjoy vegetable casseroles in particular. Some of the meat and potato ones I've seen are still a little daunting but for veggies, they are a great, easy way to serve vegetables that seems special but really requires little effort.


I always have chile-lime Tajín in the cabinet and I had two kinds of Mexican cheese I had picked up for another recipe and I quickly came up with this casserole inspired by the flavors of one of my favorite summer dishes: elotes, Mexican street corn. Tajín is traditionally used sprinkled over fruit but I've come to love the mixture in savory dishes as well. I was really pleased with how it turned out. The quesadilla cheese, of course, melts beautifully and held the mixture together and the cotija has so much sharp, savory flavor it really jazzes up cauliflower which, while I love it, can be bland. The toasty breadcrumbs added a lot of texture interest. It really looks like a standard creamy casserole but once you take a bite, you realize how fresh and full of flavor it is.
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May 16, 2018

Sriracha Ranch Spinach Potato Salad






Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb baby potatoes (left whole if very small or halved)
4 oz fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon Sriracha seasoning*
2 tablespoons homemade buttermilk Ranch mix
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook until nearly-fork tender. Add the spinach and stir. Cook until the spinach is wilted and the potatoes are tender. Drain. Place in a  medium bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the Sriracha seasoning, Ranch mix, mayonnaise and vinegar until a smooth dressing forms.

Add the celery and onions to the potatoes and stir to evenly distribute. Pour the dressing over the mixture and stir to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 24 hours.  Garnish with parsley if desired.

*Not Sriracha sauce, this is a dry spice mixture. I buy it at the regular grocery store (McCormick and Spice Island both have versions) but I see a lot of versions available on Amazon. Just make sure it is fine spice mixture, not a chunky rub.



My thoughts:
I actually made this back in the winter when I was so over cold weather I made a bunch of picnic-y type foods. I liked how it turned out so I saved the recipe up until it was more weather appropriate to share. The sriracha and ranch seasonings pack a lot of flavor into the dressing relatively little effort. No one likes bland potato salad. I know some people are funny about adding extra vegetables but the spinach doesn't affect the texture much but adds some color and makes it just a little healthier. You could leave it out if you are adverse. I'm too lazy to make two side dishes so it works for me.

This would be a great addition to a cookout or picnic or even packed for lunch, it goes with pretty much anything!

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May 10, 2018

Chicken Koftas with Za'atar, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta




Ingredients:

1 lb ground chicken
1 1/2 tablespoons za'atar
1/2 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil)
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup breadcrumbs



serving suggestions:
small flatbread/pita, warmed
sliced red onion
sliced cucumber
zhug sauce*
hummus


Directions:

Mix together all of the kofta ingredients until well combined. Form into 6 small flat patties. Heat a fair amount of canola oil in a large skillet, cook the koftas until cooked through, flipping once, about 5-8 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel-lined plates.


*Trader Joe's has a version they call zhoung sauce or make your own!
My thoughts:
I recently came across an article asking whatever happened to sun-dried tomatoes which was a bit silly, in which chefs confessed to still liking them and even renaming them to make them more palatable to diners on menus. While I admit, they are a bit past when they were the new and exciting ingredient (we had them on pesto pizza the year we did the '80s for NYE) I would argue they are even more popular today because I can find them in more places and in more varieties than I could even ten years ago. I know this because finding them for that pesto pizza was oddly difficult but every regional and national chain in the area has them packed in oil and one or two varieties of "dry" sun-dried tomatoes packed in nothing but air and plastic. I try to keep a bag in my fridge for whenever I need a bit of concentrated tomato flavor. Tomato season is so short and it's nice to have that flavor for more than a couple of months a year.

I decided to make these koftas with another '80s fave, feta, use chicken instead of beef (yet another '80s touch) and update it with the trendy yet not new spice du jour: za'atar. What can I say? I'm a renegade. You could serve these as burgers or sliders but I kept them small and served them as part of a sort snack plate with leftover zhug drizzled on, and some hummus and pita. It really is a good alternative to full sit-down dinner--it had one fresh, hot element but I prepared everything else ahead of time so it only took about 20 minutes to get dinner on the table.



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May 07, 2018

Cincinnati Chili-Inspired Sloppy Joes


Ingredients:
1 1/4 lb ground beef
28 oz canned crushed tomato
14 oz canned dark red kidney beans, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

To serve:
seeded, sturdy rolls
shredded cheddar
chopped raw onion


Directions:

In a large skillet saute onion, garlic, ground beef, and chili powder until ground beef is slightly browned. Drain off any excess fat. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally or until most of the liquid is absorbed or evaporated but the mixture is still a little runny. Ladle on to rolls, top with onion and cheese.

My thoughts:
I always enjoy Cincinnati Chili. I know it is one of the more controversial chilis out there since it basically an unusually flavored meat sauce and served on spaghetti but it is oddly satisfying. I've made a few versions over the years- traditional Cincinnati Chili, a slow cooker version that is great for weeknights (just ladle it over some hot spaghetti and top with the traditional kidney beans, onion, cheese and serve) then I got creative and made Cincinnati Chili Mac and Cincinnati Chili Dogs. This is another homage-- a mix of retro fave sloppy joes and the Mediterranean-spiced chili. I tossed the beans into the meat mixture vs using them as a topping for ease of serving (and eating!) and reduced the cooking time a bit so it works better as a sloppy joe. The result is an oddly satisfying sandwich! Quicker and easier than traditional Cincinnati Chili but just as flavorful.


Protip: Use sturdy rolls! The first rolls I tried had a thinner bottom half and things got messy, quick!


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April 30, 2018

Double Double Cookies



Ingredients:


1 cup flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
2 tablespoon peanut butter powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips



Directions:


Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough two inches apart.

Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 12 minutes. Slide the cookies out on the baking mat on to a cooling rack and allow them to cool 1-2 minutes on the baking mat/parchment on the wire rack before removing them to cool directly on the wire rack.


Yield: about 1 1/2-2 dozen cookies


My thoughts:
We braved Costco this weekend and while we were there they were baking what I and another shopper decided must have been chocolate chip cookies. They smelled so good! It was like they were pumping molten chocolate into the air around the bakery. I was tempted to buy some but since I wasn't 100% sure that's what they were making and I've never bought a dessert from Costco before, I left the bakery section empty-handed. 

I had thought we might end up at a bakery at some point this weekend but we didn't so I broke down and made some cookies late Sunday while catching up on some BritBox. I was going to make plain chocolate chip cookies but I remembered I had an open bag of peanut butter chips so I thought I'd add them too. Then I saw the open jar of peanut butter powder (still can't believe how easy that is to find these days!) and a smidge of fancy cocoa in the cabinet and tossed that in to make these cookies double double: double the chocolate, double the peanut butter flavor! There is only a bit of cocoa in the cookies so there is just a kiss of chocolate in the batter--the chips really pack the chocolate punch here.The peanut butter powder really works to spread the peanut butter flavor throughout the cookie without the mess and adjustments you have to make when working with actual peanut butter--it basically acts as flour here. 


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April 25, 2018

Pea Shoot Macaroni Salad



Ingredients:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
1 tablespoon ground mustard (ground, like Colman's)
1 medium red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
3 tablespoons dill pickle relish
1/2 lb pea shoots, blanched and chopped
16 oz warm, slightly over-cooked macaroni*

Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, celery seed, vinegar, lemon pepper, mustard, salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, stir together the onion, pea shoots, pickle relish, and macaroni. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving, but overnight is best.



*When I was making the Hawaiian-style Mac Salad, I found that slightly overcooking the macaroni and stirring the dressing in warm makes for a much more flavorful macaroni salad, the dressing really seeps into the noodle.



My thoughts:
I always enjoy a good macaroni salad. I think it is because growing up we very rarely ate any food that my mom did not prepare herself and macaroni salad was one of the few things she didn't make and would pick up at the deli counter or better yet when from the seafood takeout place we'd get fried oysters once a year. YUM. I've recreated what I enjoyed as a child before so this time when the yen hit, I thought I'd go classic with a twist.

It's pea shoot season again and I just happened to have some on hand from my produce delivery and I thought rather than going with carrots and celery, I'd add that for a bit of color and crisp texture. Not to mention the subtle pea flavor and added vitamins or whatever. It looks a bit pale and bland but I also really packed in the flavor with plenty of mustard powder, celery seed and lemon pepper seasoning--no bland salad here!

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April 23, 2018

Green Bean Salad with Speck and Hearts of Palm



Ingredients:

for the salad:
1 lb green beans, blanched and cooled
6 oz (drained) hearts of palm medallions, quartered*
1/2 red onion, cut into thin quarter moons
1 tablespoon nonpareil capers

dressing:
2 tablespoons prosecco white vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon
freshly ground black pepper


2 oz speck, torn into bite-sized pieces (could also use prosciutto)

Directions:

Place the salad ingredients in a bowl. Toss. Set aside. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Toss over green bean mixture. Serve immediately or refrigerate one hour. Garnish with speck prior to serving.

Serves: 4-6 as a side dish


*I found these in a pouch in brine at Trader Joe's, canned slices are fine as well. The medallions hold their shape and the slices will separate into rings.

My thoughts:
Local produce! Finally! I ordered my first all local box of the season last week. It's a little pricey but worth it when it has fruit and vegetables I actually want to eat. I don't get even the mixed (local and not) boxes in the winter unless it is something special like an unusual squash because I can find most of what's in them at Aldi or a regular supermarket. But finally, things are growing here! My guess is these green beans were grown in a greenhouse or some sort of shelter because it is still getting pretty close to freezing here at night. 

Anyway! I had actually gone to Trader Joe's, which I am not a fan of, because I was at that shopping center going to a Daffodil show  and thought why not and while there I saw these odd hearts of palm medallions. They are from a bit of the plant that is further down on the stem (?) so it doesn't split into rings like regular hearts of palm which is a little odd but fine by me. I am all for reduced food waste. Plus they came in a nifty resealable bag which convenient because I actually only made a half batch of this salad for the two of us. They added a slightly pickled flavor and some texture interest. I always stock up on speck when it is on sale during Aldi's German week. I just love the texture and the salty, smoky richness it gives to everything. It is a truly fancy-seeming side that comes together very quickly and can be made ahead a bit. Honestly, I say to refrigerate it up to an hour but the leftovers I had the last day were just fine. Simply add the speck when ready to serve. 


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April 19, 2018

Garlic Chive & Dill Shrimp Pasta Salad






Ingredients:
1  lb freshly steamed, peeled large shrimp, cut in half
2/3 cup chopped garlic chives
1/4 cup diced green onion
8 oz cooked, small pasta (I used regular old macaroni)

for the dressing:
3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2-3 teaspoons minced dill
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
salt
pepper

Directions:
Place the shrimp, chives, onion, and pasta in a large bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Pour the dressing over the mixture and stir to coat.

My thoughts:
I made this shrimp and pasta salad a couple of weeks ago as a planned cold lunch for the day after I used shrimp in another dish for dinner to use up not only the shrimp but some green onions and garlic chives. It was really good but I didn't think about posting it until someone who saw it when I made it on Instagram sent me a message asking when I was going to post the recipe. Luckily I had been playing around with my camera that day and happened to have a picture of it.

The recipe is super easy but also very flavorful thanks to bold ingredients like dill and garlic chives. Garlic chives have become much easier to buy over the years, now pretty much any supermarket I go into sells them. I'm glad because they add such a nice garlicy flavor to dishes like this salad that you would not want to add raw garlic too.

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April 16, 2018

Crispy Pork Chop Sandwiches with Pickles and Coleslaw







Ingredients:

1 lb thin-cut boneless pork chops (about 1/4 inch thick)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup breadcrumbs

spice mixture:
1 1/2 tablespoons ground mustard (powder, like Colman's)
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
freshly ground black pepper
salt

to serve:
1 1/2 cup prepared coleslaw
1/2 cup (drained) dill hamburger pickle chips
4-6 seeded buns



Directions:

NOTE: THIS MUST BE DONE THE 4-8 HOURS BEFORE COOKING

Whisk together the spice mixture.

Place half of the spice mixture in a resealable bag, reserve the rest for the breadcrumbs. Add the buttermilk, mustard powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic squish the bag around to evenly distribute all ingredients. Add the pork, seal. Refrigerate 4-8 hours.

When ready to cook:

Heat 1/2 inch canola oil in a large, heavy pan.

 Pour the breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl or plate, whisk in remaining spice mixture. Dredge the pork in the crumbs. Fry, turning once until golden brown and fully cooked about 2-4 minutes. Drain on paper towel-lined plates.

Place 2 chops on rolls, top with pickles and coleslaw. Serve immediately.


My thoughts:
The prolonged cold weather is really bumming me out. It's mid-April and still, none of my favorite spring vegetables are available locally. Sigh. So I've been trying to make more warm-weather-y foods like this sandwich while making do with cold weather hearty vegetables like cabbage and carrots. At least it tastes fresh and springy!

This is super easy to make, the buttermilk really clings to the pork so there is no need to dip it in egg--it can go straight into the seasoned bread crumbs and into the oil. Thin cut pork chops cook in literally 2 minutes so while it seems like a weekend recipe, you can totally make this on a weeknight.

I made the coleslaw but picked up some potato salad at the German deli to serve as a side to make things easier. Super flavorful sandwiches that are a little more fun than the typical. Pro-tip: place the pickles on top of the pork, then top with coleslaw for minimal mess when eating.

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April 11, 2018

Ras el Hanout Spiced Cauliflower with Tomato, Beans and Couscous




Ingredients:
6 oz dried couscous
1 medium-large cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 onion, cut into half moons
10 oz canned tomatoes with green chiles
14 oz canned Great Northern Beans, drained
1 tablespoon ras el hanout
1 tablespoon nonpareil capers
freshly ground black pepper
fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish



Directions:

Cook couscous according to package instructions*.

Meanwhile, saute the onion and cauliflower until both are soft and starting to brown, in a large skillet. Add the beans, tomatoes, spices, and capers and saute until warmed through. Stir in cooked couscous and cook briefly, until all is heated through and the liquid had evaporated. Garnish with parsley.



*I normally toss some lemon zest or lemon pepper seasoning and some dehydrated onions into the recommended broth or water.
My thoughts:
I've been off couscous for about a decade. I've made pearl couscous a few times but the tiny couscous? No thank you. I've even avoided it in restaurants but really, that has more to do with the fact that it often has other things, like raisins,  in it that I would prefer not to eat.

Anyway, I've decided to end this self-imposed embargo when inspecting a package of it at Aldi, I was reminded of how quickly it is to make, much quicker than pasta and rice. So I've been experimenting with it again.

Moroccan flavors are the obvious choice for this sort of couscous so I pulled out my trusty jar of ras el hanout (how awesome is it that McCormick makes it now and you can find it in the regular supermarket?) which always reminds me of Ra's al Ghul of DC Comic fame but isn't a supervillain but rather a mixture of a ton of aromatic spices and is popular in Northern African cuisine. I guess chickpeas would have been a natural choice but I'm a rebel and went with one of my old favorites, the Great Northern Bean but you could use chickpeas or cannellini beans if you wish. I used canned tomatoes with green chiles (i.e. Rotel, although I used a generic version) for some flavor and spice and my old friend cauliflower. The result was a well-spiced side or even main dish that was oddly tasty and satisfying.


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April 09, 2018

Buttermilk & Mustard Brined Pretzel Fried Chicken Bites



Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (could also use breasts)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon ground mustard (powder, like Colman's)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
freshly ground black pepper
6 large sourdough hard pretzels (I used these)


Directions:

NOTE: THIS MUST BE DONE THE DAY BEFORE COOKING

Cut the thighs in half or bite-sized pieces. Place in a resealable bag. Add the buttermilk, mustard powder, pepper, and granulated garlic squish the bag around to evenly distribute all ingredients. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day:
Heat 1/2 inch canola oil in a large, heavy pan.

Break the pretzels into small pieces. Place in a food processor to pulse into crumbs. Pour into a shallow bowl or plate. Dredge the chicken bits in the pretzels crumbs. Fry, turning once until golden brown and fully cooked about 5-8 minutes. Drain on paper towel-lined plates. Serve immediately.


My thoughts:
I had these chicken thighs in the fridge for awhile and I had no idea what to do with them. To be honest, I don't love chicken. Creating recipes for my cookbooks, especially the healthier focused ones made me a bit tired of it. But it chicken thighs are exceedingly affordable and a lot more flavorful than chicken breasts so I find myself making them with some regularity. 

I had some leftover buttermilk from making cornbread to go with this soup so I thought maybe I'd make fried chicken but that seemed a bit dull. Then I thought I could spike the buttermilk with mustard to jazz it up then that made me think of pretzels and the rest was, well this recipe. 

It is as simple as making any breaded chicken but has the distinctive taste of pretzels and is surprisingly well-flavored throughout thanks to the mustard-buttermilk marinade. 


Another fun pretzel-mustard-chicken recipe: Pretzel & Mustard Spiked Chicken Burgers.

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April 05, 2018

Spinach Asparagus Smoked Salmon Quiche with a Crumb Crust






Ingredients:

for the crust:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cup fresh breadcrumbs*


filling:

8 oz baby spinach (chop up any large bits)
1/2 cup chopped green onion
5 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 lb asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup shredded Gouda
2 oz smoked salmon, chopped
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium bowl, stir together the crumbs and oil until the mixture sticks together

Press the mixture to form a crust in a pie plate or quiche pan or tart pan (I just use a Pyrex pie plate).  Bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool on wire rack.

Reduce oven to 325.


Meanwhile, saute the onion and greens in a small amount of oil or butter until the greens are wilted. Allow to cool to room temperature. In a medium bowl, whisk together* the milk, lox, cheese, asparagus, and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into the pan.


Smooth it out and/or gently stir if you have any asparagus peeking up like I do above. Bake 45-50 minutes or until fully cooked. If there is water on the surface of the quiche when it is fully cooked, carefully blot it with a cloth or paper towel. Cool on wire rack.

*Well, they were fresh at one point, I made them and frozen them a while back from a loaf of locally made bakery cheese bread and defrosted them to make this.  Add 2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan to your breadcrumbs if you'd like them cheesy as well.

**I love my hand egg beater to get it really fluffy and well mixed.


My thoughts:
Quiche is a great way to use up vegetables to make something entirely new and perhaps even more interesting than the initial dish. I had some lox from the "everything bagel" deviled eggs and some odds and ends of vegetables to use up so why not make quiche? I didn't want to make a fussy crust so I used some fresh breadcrumbs to make a quick crumb crust.

I admit it, I was skeptical of the crust. However, now I am a total convert! It was dead simple and held together beautifully. It even seemed a bit rehydrated from the juicy filling. Who knew? I love a traditional crust of course but this was so tasty and so easy, I don't know if I will go back. Way less clean up and effort too. And it sliced like a dream! The first slice to the last came out absolutely perfect. I honestly think this might be the only way I make quiche from now on, it was that much of a game changer. The flavor was amazing too.

This is a super moist quiche thanks to the spinach and asparagus but it didn't get soggy--I did blot it when it came out of the oven to remove some water that had appeared on the top but the crust stayed crisp and firm. No soggy bottoms here, Mary Berry! The quiche had a fresh, springy taste and just a hint of smoke from the smoked salmon. Perfect for a spring picnic or lunch.

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April 03, 2018

Double Turnip Soup with Ham


Ingredients:

2 purple-topped turnips, cubed
1 1/2 cup cubed Russet potatoes (1-2 potatoes)
1 cup 1/4 inch dice garlic chives
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 cups large cubed ham*
2 quarts ham or chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
fresh thyme
1 lb chopped turnip greens


Directions:
Saute the turnips, potatoes, garlic chives, garlic, onion, and ham in a large pot until the onion is translucent. Add stock and seasoning. Simmer the stock until the potatoes and turnips are tender. Stir in the greens and simmer for 20 minutes.


Serves: about 8

*I used this boneless ham.
My thoughts:
I love turnip greens! I was so excited to see pre-chopped turnip greens in the supermarket the other day. I prefer buying turnips with the greens attached but it isn't quite turnip season here yet and to be honest, cut greens are so much quicker when cooking on a weeknight and taste the same. I did have to buy my turnips separately but pretty much any supermarket sells them. The garlic chives are surprisingly easy to find as well but regular chives could be subbed in. If you can find them though the garlic chives add a subtle garlic flavor that pairs really well with the turnip greens.

For some reason, I don't think turnips are very popular. It's a shame because they have such a fresh peppery flavor and hold their shape in soups but also are great mashed. The greens have a peppery bite too and you can cook them pretty much as you would collards but you don't have to take the rib out before cooking them. They are milder than mustard greens too and can be used in any recipe that calls for them.

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April 01, 2018

"Everything Bagel" Deviled Eggs




Ingredients:

12 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise

for the filling:
12 yolks
3 tablespoons-1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

"everything" seasoning mix:
1 1/2 teaspoon dehydrated minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic
1 teaspoon  mixed black and white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
pinch kosher salt

toppings:
2 oz smoked salmon (lox), cut into 1/4 inch squares
2 tablespoons nonpareil capers, drained
thinly sliced red onion, cut into small triangles

Directions:
Use a mini prep (I used this), food processor or blender to thoroughly mix together the filling ingredients until fairly smooth. Spoon an equal amount into each of the egg halves.

In a small bowl, mix together the everything seasoning mix.

Divide the toppings between the eggs, pressing the capers into to egg mixture so they don't roll away. Sprinkle with everything seasoning.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Use leftover everything seasoning in another recipe.

Yield: dozen eggs (so 24 halves)
My thoughts:
This year Easter and Passover overlap. While Chrismukkah and even Thanksgivukkah get a lot of press, I've heard nary a peep about this holiday. We celebrate both and as neither of us is religious in the slightest, its really all about the food. As such, I thought it was time to bridge the gap and make some fusion food. It's a nod to the fact that is is also April Fool's Day, decorating an egg as if it was a bagel seemed to fit right in. The deviled potatoes I made a few years back would fit right in too.

Nothing says Easter like hardboiled eggs and by extension, deviled eggs. I have nearly 20 deviled egg recipes here on the blog (although oddly, not any from the last 3 or so years) but one can never have too many!

This recipe takes its flavor from one of my all-time favorite foods: the everything bagel and lox platter. While bagels are not acceptable for Passover, the flavors are (unless you follow the prohibition against sesame, mustard and poppy seeds which is a bit debated). It's a little labor intensive to cut up the lox and onion and mix together the seasoning (or you can buy it ready made in some stores) but it is worth it! I was tempted to use cream cheese in the filling but it was a little too thick and rich. Sour cream provided a similar tang and made for a creamier, softer egg filling.

Oh, I have to reccomend this deviled egg transporter. I picked it up on a whim at the grocery store and I love it!It holds a full dozen eggs (so 24 halves) and clicks apart so you can also only transport a half dozen. Since it is a double decker container, it takes up a lot less space than my old container which held them all flat.
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March 29, 2018

Dulce de Leche Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons



Ingredients:

4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
14 oz dulce de leche (prepared or make your own)
2/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Form into small balls (or use a medium-sized cookie scoop) and place 1/2 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Slide the macaroons out ON the parchment paper onto the wire racks. Cool completely.


Yield: about 2 dozen
My thoughts:
Macaroons are a Passover classic! I haven't made them in years (since 2007, apparently!) but I do like them quite a bit. I have a hard time resisting coconut treats!

The other day I was perusing the kosher for Passover section at the grocery store the other day and saw kosher for Passover prepared dulce de leche! I immediately thought that it would make a great macaroon. I've always made the kind that uses egg whites to stick the coconut together but I know there is another method that uses sweetened condensed milk (which I have also seen in kosher for Passover cans and there are a ton of DIY recipes for it online) so why not dulce de leche? It's a bit thicker and caramelized but you can use it in similar ways. Since we are not religious, I just use whatever I have on hand but there are options out there if you are more strict. I don't want anyone to miss out on these delicious treats!

They are quite sweet, of course, but the sweetness is tempered slightly by the dark chocolate chips and the dark caramel notes of the dulce de leche. They also take only maybe 15 minutes to make so they are a perfect last minute dessert or gift.

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March 27, 2018

Smashed Potato Salad with Asparagus



Ingredients:
2 lb whole baby Yukon gold potatoes
1 cup small dice thin asparagus
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup diced red onion
3 tablespoons dill relish
1 tablespoon dry mustard (mustard powder)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onion

Direction:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until fork-tender.

Meanwhile, place the asparagus in a large bowl. Place the hot potatoes on top of the asparagus. Use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to crack and slightly smash the potatoes. Stir to distribute the asparagus. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, onion, dill relish, mustard, paprika, cayenne, and pepper until a dressing forms. Pour over the potatoes, stir to evenly coat the potatoes and asparagus. Fold in green onion.



My thoughts:
Is it finally potato salad season? We've had a lot of snow for late March and I am done with it. While I love hot potato dishes nothing signals the return of warm weather more than potato salad. This one uses asparagus instead of celery for a bit of crunch. It lightly steams under the potatoes but retains a bit of a bite. Then I smashed the potatoes lightly for a super creamy texture. The dressing is full-bodied as every potato salad dressing should be and gets a pickle punch from the dill relish--a great alternative to having to chop up kosher dills.The result is a tangy, creamy potato salad that has just enough vegetables that you don't feel like you have to make a second side dish.

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