April 30, 2014

Quick-Pickled Radish and Jalapeño Slices

8 red radishes, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar


Place all ingredients in a 8-oz mason jar. Cover and shake until the salt dissolves. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 25 minutes.

My thoughts:
Old El Paso got in touch and asked me to come up a quick side dish for two to go with their frozen burritos. I wanted something light to be a counterpoint to the beef and corn filling so I thought pickles might just be the thing. I love radishes, pickled and otherwise, on tacos so I thought why not turn it into a side dish? I love ordering homemade pickles at various local restaurants so it made perfect sense. Think of it as a super crunchy, saucy salad if having pickles as a side is too wacky. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well it fits.

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April 25, 2014

Crab Boil Potato Salad

2 1/2-3 lb Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 oz (powdered, dry) crawfish, shrimp and crab boil
10 cornichons, minced
1 large shallot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon

Bring the crab boil to boil in a large pot of water. Add the potatoes and boil until fork-tender. Drain, rinsing off some of the crab boil spices if desired. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and allow to cool. Add remaining ingredients and stir to evenly distribute. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

My thoughts:
I am ready for the summer! Can you tell? I haven't had crabs yet but I had the idea of using crab boil to cook potatoes for potato salad a while back. Matt remembered and brought back a packet of crab boil from the store for me. Now, most people in Baltimore use Old Bay (or as I generically refer to it in my cookbooks, Chesapeake Bay seasoning) to steam crabs but the boil seasoning stuff is pretty good too. It is mostly peppers and mustard seeds and I swear some whole coriander. It made seasoning the potato salad a breeze since the potatoes were already flavored. I had this with some sandwiches but I think it would more at home with some seafood or at a picnic.

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April 23, 2014

Ham Croquettes

2 cups small dice ham*
1 small onion, small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, beaten**
3/4 cup bread crumbs or matzo meal


Melt butter in a pan, add oil and heat through. Add the ham, onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and spices and cook 1-2 minutes. Add the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Place in a covered container and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 8 or until firm.

Heat 1/2 inch canola oil in a large skillet. Place the egg and breadcrumbs/matzo meal in separate shallow bowls. Form the dough into 2 inch by 1/2 inch logs. Dip in egg then dredge in crumbs. Fry, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towel lined plates. Serve immediately.

*I diced leftover sliced ham so my "cubes" were on the flatter side. Whole or sliced (not deli) ham would work.
**I actually used some egg yolk leftover from making macarons but either would work.

My thoughts:
Why don't we eat more croquettes in this country? When we were in Belgium, I ate a ton of croquettes aux crevettes (shrimp croquettes) and in planning our upcoming trip to Portugal, it looks like Lisbon is lousy with beef croquettes (croquetes). Occasionally we might make a fish cake but they aren't as fun as the little log-shaped croquettes that are so abundant elsewhere. I'd like to change that. I made these using leftover spiral-sliced ham and just onion and garlic but they were super flavorful and surprisingly easy. When we went to a cooking class in Brugge, the chef showed us how to make croquettes aux crevettes but he had a big pan of flour and milk paste ready to go so all you needed to do was scoop some out and mix in the shrimp. That really isn't practical for the home cook so I came up with this recipe which makes the "paste" on the stove trapping the ham inside. The croquette is a delight; crisp on the outside, melty and warm on the inside.

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April 21, 2014

The Ham Jam (+ Egg Sandwich)

4 crusty (in a good way) Italian rolls
1 lb (leftover) sliced ham
1/4 cup peach pepper jam (I used the peach-fish pepper jam I canned last year)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 slices smoked provolone
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced*


Slice rolls. Slather jam on one side, mustard on the other. Top the mustard side with cheese then a single layer of egg then ham. Close. Devour.

*best egg slicer ever!

My thoughts:
Sometimes a sandwich is so good, you just have to share it. I've been on a egg kick lately (hard-boiled, sunny-side up, poached) so when I wanted to make a sandwich using some of the insane amount of ham I bought (for only two people!) it was natural to toss an egg into the mix. I used spicy peach jam instead of perhaps the more expected chutney (why do so many sandwiches sport chutney these days?) and my favorite Dijon. The smoked provolone was a whim at the Italian store but it was great, mild but smoky in a way that complemented the ham. The perfect sandwich for someone loves bold flavors but also might have some ham and egg that need to find a home. I can't wait to make another one.

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April 19, 2014

Root Beer Float Macarons

1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup almond flour (aka almond meal)
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar*
1/2 teaspoon root beer concentrate

thick marshmallow ice cream topping or fluffy white frosting

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Whisk the confectioner's sugar and almond flour through a fine sieve (this took forever) into a large (preferably glass) bowl. In a large bowl or the bowl of standmixer, beat the eggs and cream of tartar until frothy. Slowly stream in the superfine sugar and turn on high. Beat until stiff and glossy. Scrape the egg whites into the bowl with the almond-sugar mixture. Fold in egg whites. Add the root beer concentrate. Fold into the batter until it forms a ribbon and streams off the spoon in a solid sheet, about 3 minutes. Transfer the batter into a pastry bag outfitted with a 1/4 inch tip. Hold the tip about 1/4 inch over the baking sheets and squeeze (without moving) until a 1 1/2 inch circle forms. Repeat for remaining batter.

Preheat oven to 300 using the convection oven setting. Allow the circles to sit, at room temperature (I turned on the ceiling fan to speed this along) for about 20 minutes or until they are no longer sticky to the touch. Bake 18 minutes or until risen and a "foot" (the rough bit at the bottom) appears. Remove using a thin, metal turner to a cooling rack. Cool completely. Ice the inside of one cookie then sandwich with a second.

*I put 1/4 cup regular, granulated sugar in the blender and pulsed a few times then re-measured.

Yield: about 2  dozen macarons.

My thoughts:

I had never tried to make macarons until today. I have bought them loads of time (even in Belgium!) but I had never been tempted to make them until the fine people at Sucré invited me and 12 other bloggers to compete in a macaron making contest. I tried their macarons (loved the Easter flavors!) and then tried to think of a fun flavor to make myself. Root Beer has been on the brain since I made that brittle so Matt suggested I make root beer float macarons! Yum! So I made root beer flavored shells with marshmallow centers to mimic the "float" in the root beer float. I was a little worried but they look and taste like real macarons!

If you like what you see (and make, try these, they are tasty and way easier than I expected) vote for my recipe here.

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April 18, 2014

No Ordinary Pot Roast

12 oz frozen* pearl onions
3 lb beef bottom round roast
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 cup red wine
4 cups beef stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz tomato paste
1 tablespoon horseradish
2 bay leaves
3 carrots, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
3 parsnips, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
super fine flour (like Wondra)

Heat a small amount of oil in a large, lidded heavy bottomed pot (like a Dutch oven). Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, rub paprika, salt and pepper into the roast. Sprinkle liberally with flour. Place in the pan and brown on all sides. Add the wine, garlic, tomato paste, bay leaves, horseradish and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 2 hours. Add the carrots and parsnips. Continue to simmer, covered, 1 hour or until the meat is very tender.

*You can you fresh that you peeled yourself but peeling pearl onions is not my idea of a good time.

My thoughts:
This pot roast was seriously amazing. Way better than I thought pot roast could be. It was moist and tender and made its own thick gravy. What more could I ask for? It didn't taste tomato-y despite all of the tomato paste, just rich and savory. The gravy was so good, I used on the horseradish and sour cream-spiked potatoes I served on the side and wish I had more. Really, words cannot describe how great this pot roast was, it was convert a pot roast hater into a pot roast lover in one bite. It is also a leaner and (dare I say) tastier alternative to brisket at Passover.

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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-ttata

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 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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