Thursday, January 30, 2014

Stuffed Mushrooms Tapenade

Two popular dishes rolled into with these little fungi and a store bought version of tapenade with chopped green and black olives flecked with sun dried tomatoes, herbs and spices like thyme and basil.  The bread crumbs for these is actually cubed garlic bread that is sauteed with the olives and tomatoes , then some wonderful Pamigiano Reggiano, or more budget friendly Parmesan is folded in, and the mixture is crammed into fresh mushrooms and broiled!  This recipe is perfect for quick entertaining on the fly, with little effort and maximum flavor, marrying spectacular Italian and French ideas into perfect Mediterranean bites!
1 8 oz. pkg. whole mushrooms
1 c. toasted and cubed garlic bread
1/2 c. store bought tapenade with black and green olives and sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp. grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for broiling and garnish
Turn on broiler.
Wipe and clean mushrooms with a dry clean cloth and pop out stems, save for another use.
In a medium saute pan over medium high heat, add tapenade and garlic bread cubes.
Saute together to allow bread to absorb moisture, about 2 minutes and turn off heat.
Fold in grated cheeses and remove from heat.
Stuff mushrooms equally with mixture and top with small pinch of cheese.
Broil on bottom rack until cheese is melted and slightly golden and mushrooms just begin to give up liquid, about 5 minutes.  Garnish with additional cheese if desired.  Makes about 12.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Veggie Confetti and Shrimp Summer Rolls

Easy and quite delicious, these summer rolls are loaded with veggies and easy on the waistline.  Flavors are intensified by seasoned rice vinegar, ginger and Sriracha.  The shrimp are a wonderful addition chipping in protein, calcium, magnesium and iron, but easily may be omitted .  Each summer roll packs in a full 1/2 cup of  vitamin B rich gems likes broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage and carrots in this premixed package.  The only fat is contained within the less than 3 grams provided by the shrimp.  Once you get the hang of the rice paper, especially if it's a new ingredient, as it was for me, these rolls are a super light, but filling and fantastic dish for any season.  Throw in some chicken seasoned with Chinese BBQ marinade and roasted, and it 's a full meal made in heaven!  They may be converted into SPRING rolls, by deep frying, changing the dynamic,  and the outer skin, but also the fat and calories.  I like them both!!:)
1 12 oz. pkg. Rainbow Slaw
4 oz. salad shrimp, thawed and drained
1/4 c. julienne of red onion
1/4 c. seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp. cilantro leaves
1/4. tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. Sriracha or to taste
6 sheets rice paper, plus more if needed
Sweet Chili Sauce for serving
Combine veggies and spices with rice vinegar and toss well or fold to coat.  SPST
Let stand at room temperature for up to 15 minutes.  Drain.
Assemble rice paper one at a time by soaking in warm water for 5 seconds.
Transfer to large plate, leaving a portion of the rice paper hanging over the edge, for ease of rolling.
Starting from the overhang, add 1/2 cup veggie mixture to corner and roll, tucking firmly as you go.
After about 3 rotations, tuck ends and press filling inwards with your index fingers on both sides.
Continue to end of rice paper.
Repeat.  Makes 6 rolls.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Pow-Wow About Chow Chow!

I had my first experience with chow chow within the last 6 months.  CHOW CHOW? I wondered for years what the heck it was exactly.  It so happens that a very close friend of mine's family has been making it for generations.  Immediately, I thought that was rather spectacular, having the recipe passed down and continued.  He personally doesn't care for chow chow, and it is used in a traditional fashion by his family, i.e as a relish for hotdogs and a general condiment.  I on the other hand,  like taking foods to the edge and I set out to see what I could come up with, converting it from a condiment into a substantial and sometimes unconventional ingredient.
Chow Chow is of French Canadian and American descent, but has links to China and India and is said to have reached Louisiana, where it is extremely popular, and other low lying Southern states via migrants that settled there.
There are a plethora of ingredients that make up chow chow including but not limited to beans, corn, green and red tomatoes, squash, okra, cabbage, chayote, peppers, asparagus and onions to name a few.  I think it largely depends on seasonal veggies and what is available in particular areas as to the final product.  Chow Chow may be sweet or savory, the sweeter version being favored more towards the north and generally served cold. It may also be eaten as is. Some of the country stores that peddle chow chow 'from the counter' versions, have been reminiscent of cat barf and to me not appealing enough to the eye to even entertain!  My friend's family makes a very uniform and visually appealing blend that my palate has discovered to contain cabbage, green and red peppers, pickling spices, give or take onions, plus vinegar and sugar among the ingredients.

With the formalities out of the way, we move on to one of the recipes I created using this magnificent cacophony of sweet, tangy and savory, a recipe I lovingly named Annette's Chow Chow Sausage Balls, because it is my friend's mom's name and provider of my finally pleasant images of what was once an uninviting mystery to me!
1 lb. good quality sage sausage
1/4 c. fresh bread crumbs
1/4 c. chow chow, squeezed of excess moisture
1 tbsp. concentrated tomato paste
2 tsp. minced onion
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. freshly chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
For optional sauce to coat:
2 tbsp. good quality ketchup
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. less sodium soy
Preheat oven to 350*F.  Combine ingredients down to the garlic.  SPST.  Mix with large tine fork or hands until evenly distributed.
Roll into balls about 1" in diameter.
Place on baking sheet evenly spaced and bake until juices run clear and no longer pink, about 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 175 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, bring sauce up to a boil and reduce to low.  Toss or fold  meatballs in the sauce immediately after removing from oven if desired.  Makes about 24.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lasagna Roll-Ups

Looking for a more portion controlled serving of a classic favorite and often over indulgence causing lasagna, then look no further.  These roll-ups are pretty easy to assemble and can fit within a reasonable cooking time for a week nite meal sure to please, just throw in a green salad and garlic toast.  I used 2 cups of the Rustic Turkey Bolognese  featured  on this blog to smother the Ricotta, Parmesan and Mozzarella stuffed noodles and baked the whole shebang topped with cheese, baked to golden goodness.  I served these magnificent gems to my nephew Damon, during his visit from New York over the holidays.  He enjoyed them immensely, as did my niece Laura, my mom, and the two 'test subject' sisters, Hollie and Gayle.
 The roll-ups be prepped ahead of time and baked when needed for easy entertaining or for a stellar meal on the fly.
12 lasagna noodles, par-cooked in boiling salted water, just until pliant, about 6 minutes
15 oz. container part skim Ricotta cheese
2  eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. onion powder
2 c. Rustic Turkey Bolognese, meat sauce or non-meat sauce
1 1/2 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese, more if desired.
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Prepare filling by mixing ingredients together and blended well.  SPST
Place lasagna on flat surface, 3 at a time.
Place about 1 1/2 tbsp. on each noodle and spread evenly from end to end.
Start rolling  from one side to the next and place in olive oil drizzled  baking dish, seam side facing down.
Continue until all noodles and filling have been utilized.
Spread meat sauce over roll-ups, then shredded cheese and cover tightly with foil.
Bake until noodle can be pierced easily with a fork,  filling is set and cheese is melted, about 25 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for additional 5 minutes until slightly golden.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.
Let stand for a few minutes before serving.  Serves 6.
This recipe may easily be doubled.

Rustic Turkey Bolognese

This recipe is a wonderful and flavorful addition to any menu, perfect for this cold, rainy and wintry weather!  The protein of choice is ground turkey, along with a gaggle of root veggies and aromatics. The smell will perfume the home with soothing and delectable fragrance, calming the mind and body, comforting all that encounter it's intoxicating aura.    I came up with this recipe during my fun with turnips labs and am proud to say that the family loved it, including my 6 year old Bronwyn, who even requested seconds.  There are copious amounts of heart healthy vegetables including the traditional Bolognese ingredients of carrots, celery and onion, also bay leaf, plum tomatoes, garlic and fresh herbs.   I added a satisfying and earthy helping of turnips, which marries well with this long simmering meat sauce.  Egg noodles are featured in this photo, but feel free to embellish your desired noodle, as the sauce will play the leading role.  This recipe makes a large portion, which I halved and used in another fantastic dish to be shared soon.  This will freeze well for later use and makes for a fabulous quick and easy meal, that would normally take hours.
2 lbs. ground lean turkey
2 c. grated turnip
1 1/2 c. grated carrot
1 1/2. c. celery, small dice
1 1/2 c. onion, small dice
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tbsp.butter
2 c. chicken stock
2 -28 oz cans plum tomatoes with juices, crushed with hands
4 tbsp. concentrated tomato paste
1 c. dry white wine, optional
1/2 c. or palmful of fresh herbs like basil, oregano and parsley
olive oil for drizzling
sugar to taste, optional
Garlic bread and freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano for serving

In a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat and drizzle in about 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Add turnip, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf and pepper flakes.
 Stir well to coat and SPST.
Cook until veggies are softened, about 15 minutes.
Brown turkey, broken down into small crumbles in separate skillet , drain and add to veggies.
Add stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, herbs and sugar to taste bring up to a boil.
Reduce heat to gentle simmer, cover loosely and continue to cook for several hours stirring often and sauce is reduced by about 1/3 or to desired thickness.
 Remove bay leaf.
 Stir in herbs.
 Divide the sauce at this point if desired and allow to cool completely before storing in air tight container or large resealable bag.
This sauce may be simmered in  the oven also, which is what I did.  Enjoy!!