April 16, 2014

Deviled Potatoes

2 lbs baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved horizonally
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon
4-5 cornichons
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
smoked paprika
olive oil


Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly toss the potatoes with olive oil. Roast the potatoes, cut side up for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Allow to cool. Use a melon baller or measuring spoon to scoop out the center of each potato, leaving about 1/4 inch border. Place the potato pulp in a bowl or mini chopper and add remaining ingredients. Pulse until smooth. Spoon in the middle of each potato shell. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.

My thoughts:
I had the idea to make deviled egg-style potatoes for April Fool's Day but then I thought they'd make a better Easter treat. It was a little tricky to find the perfect potatoes but if you are less picky, you can probably find a bag of "baby" potatoes that are more or less uniform in size in your first trip to the store. I kept the filling simple, basically what I'd do with a real deviled egg, but I really loved the cornichons, they added a lot of flavor for something so tiny! They were a lot of fun to serve and perfect for parties.

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April 14, 2014

Roasted Eggplant Matzo Brei-tatta

2 eggplants, cubed and roasted*
8 eggs, beaten
6 sheets "Everything" or plain matzo, broken into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz crimini mushrooms, diced
1/4 cup milk
4 oz goat cheese
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325. In a 12 inch cast iron skillet** heat oil and butter. Saute the garlic and onion until the onion is translucent. Whisk together the eggs, milk, spices. Add the matzo and allow to sit 5 minutes. Stir in the eggplant Pour the egg mixture in the pan. Sprinkle with cheese. Keep on medium heat and cook until just beginning to set. Bake about 10 minutes or until the top is just beginning to brown. Remove from pan and slice.

*I drizzled the eggplant with olive oil and baked on a lined baking sheet for 20 minutes, until the eggplant was soft.
**or other oven-safe skillet

My thoughts:
Another year, another opportunity to experiment with matzo. This was inspired by matzo brei, which is basically scrambled eggs with matzo in it, and turns it into a meal by added eggplant and cheese. Perfect for a casual Passover meal.

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April 12, 2014

In the Garden with Rachel #1

This is a little different than what I normally do here but those of you who have been following Coconut & Lime for a while or my Instagram or tweets know that we have quite a backyard here in Baltimore City. We have fig trees, pawpaw trees, 4 or 5 kinds of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, beach plums, a plum tree and generally grow some vegetables each year. My all time favorite vegetable (fruit!) to go is tomatoes but I never seem to have any luck at it. I planted 10 different varieties of tomatoes last year and ended up with 1 edible, ripe tomato. One. I was going to just pass on it this year when Miracle-Gro got in touch and was wondering if I'd want to try their Miracle-Gro Gro-ables. They are these little pods that you stick in the ground that have a seed, growing material and plant food inside. There is even an app you can use to help you plant them and follow their progress. We are living in the future. Anyway, I thought I'd give it a shot. Since they were in these self contained pods I didn't have to do much digging nor did a need a lot of space. I put the tomato and some herbs in a sunny corner near the beach plums which used to be a goldfish pond. I then covered them up with some dead leaves to help keep it warm a bit because while it is about 70 now, I hear we might get freezing temperatures and maybe snow(!) early this next week. Maybe I should have waited to plant them but who knows, I wasn't expecting the rain we had for a week either so if I wait, they'll never get in the ground.  So they are snug in the ground and I am going to update you all on their progress on a future weekend and my ultimate goal to is share a recipe I made using what I grew! Stay tuned.

April 11, 2014

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

1 3/4 lb chicken thighs (about 4 large thighs)
2-3 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
1 onion, halved and sliced thinly
8 oz crimini mushrooms, halved
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Liberally sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper.* Place the chicken, top-side down into a cold heavy-bottomed pan. Turn the heat to high and cook until the chicken starts to sizzle and brown. Move the pieces around the pan. Add the onion and mushrooms.

Cover and cook 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is nearly cooked through. Remove the lid and continue to cook until most the liquid has evaporated and the chicken is well-browned, an additional 5-8 minutes. Serve immediately.

*I actually sprinkled the top while they were still in the package then, after I placed them top-side down in the pan, I sprinkled the bottoms.

My thoughts:
I'm trying to bring the chicken thigh back. "Economical" and tasty, it is a quick-cooking alternative to the breast and (I think) tastier and easier to eat than a leg. This method ensures a crispy, burnished skin on the chicken and magically caramelizes the onions at the same time. Win-win.

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April 09, 2014

(Yay, Spring!) Strawberry-Asparagus Salad

1  lb steamed asparagus, cooled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2-3/4 lb strawberries, halved or quartered
3 hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges

for the dressing:
1 strawberry, mashed*
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger juice
1 teaspoon Dijon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Use a jar or dressing shaker to shake the dressing ingredients until well blended. Toss the strawberries and asparagus in a bowl. Add eggs. Drizzle with dressing.

*I placed a quartered strawberry in the bottom of my dressing shaker and used a muddler to mash it up before adding the other ingredients.

My thoughts:
Sorry for the long hiatus! Our phone and DSL has been down for about two weeks and I can't seem  to successfully hit post from my phone. Plus I've been busy developing some last minute recipes for my new cookbook.

In that time, it seems spring might have actually sprung (and the recipe I was going to post back in March seems outdated). No more snow (fingers crossed) and one or two daffodils have bloomed in our backyard. It is even 60+ today. Let's hope that this trend continues! Another way I know spring is here is that asparagus was going for about $1.20 lb at the regular grocery store and strawberries were only $1.40. Finally! Add some eggs I got this week from my milkman delivery (still my favorite thing ever) and I had a super spring-worthy salad. Pretty enough for guests but simple enough for a weekday side. It isn't as if perfect strawberries and asparagus need much. Although, I probably wouldn't turn down a sprinkle of chevre if you're offering.

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March 26, 2014

Pickled Asparagus with Fennel

5 pounds asparagus, cut into jar sized pieces
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 oz fresh dill, chopped
1 oz fennel fronds, chopped
4 cloves garlic
8 fresh bay leaves
4 1/2 cups water
5 cups white vinegar
1/3 cup pickling salt
3 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 teaspoons dill seeds
3 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
3 teaspoons fennel seed

Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Prep the lids/jars. Evenly divide all of the spices, peppers and garlic between 4 wide mouth 1 1/2 pint jars.

Add the asparagus and fennel, leaving 1/4 inch headroom.

Pour in the vinegar mixture. Close the jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Allow to sit 1 week before eating.

Yield: about 4 wide mouth 1 1/2 pints

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
I wasn't planning on pickling today but I went to the store and they had beautiful, skinny asparagus for $1.29 and I bought 6 pounds. I saved one pound to eat now and canned the rest. I had some fennel leftover and since one of my favorite things in the world is pickled fennel, I tossed that in too.

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March 24, 2014

Fennel-Orange Pickled Shrimp

3 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and steamed
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 Cara Cara orange, thinly sliced
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
juice of 2 Cara Cara oranges
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons nonpareil capers (with juice)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons white peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon dill seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen
sea salt
fennel fronds

Place the shrimp, green onions, orange slices, fennel and onion in a large, non-reactive bowl. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the shrimp mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve. Store leftovers up to 2 days.

My thoughts:
I had pickled shrimp in a restaurant years ago and loved it. I don't see it on menus often and it is a shame. Think of it is a lightly pickled, thinly dressed shrimp salad. I love pickled fennel so I added fresh fennel for some crunch knowing it would pickle well. Cara Cara oranges are still going strong (a silver lining to the winter-without-end) so I used them instead of the more typical lemon. Their sweetness really complemented the natural sweetness of the shrimp. I wanted some heat so I threw in a jalapeno but beyond that I relied on spices to bring the flavor. When it came to serve, I scooped up big spoonfuls into bowls and large Weck jars and served it as I would shrimp salad, with crackers, hard-boiled eggs and raw vegetables. If you are fancy, toast points and tomato aspic would work as well! I think makes for a refreshing meal so I tend to serve as such but feel free to try it as an appetizer and let people spear the shrimp with tiny daggers.

Thanks to OXO and Eastern Fish Company, a member of the NFI Shrimp Council, for asking me to develop this recipe and supplying the shrimp and tools needed to make it great! I steamed my shrimp using my favorite OXO Good Grips Silicone Steamer, drained them in my OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Bowl and Colander Set, used the OXO Good Grips Shrimp Cleaner to clean and de-vein the shrimp, OXO Good Grips Flexible Kitchen and Herb Snips to "chop" my green onion, juiced my Cara Cara oranges with OXO Good Grips Wooden Reamer, and tossed it all together with the OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Tongs with Black Silicone Heads.

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