Almond-Crusted Asparagus

March 28, 2012

I buy asparagus just about every week. It’s one of my main go-to vegetables, so I’m always trying to come up with new ideas for it. This week I decided to whiz up some sliced almonds for a crunchy coating and it came out very nicely!

Almond-Crusted Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

1 cup sliced almonds

1/8 teaspoon ground dry mustard

1/8 cup panko

salt and pepper to taste

1 eggs

1/8 cup skim milk

Lemon wedges (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the almonds, dry mustard, panko, salt and pepper in the food process and process until very fine. Transfer it to a plate. Mix the egg and milk in a bowl long enough to fit the asparagus stalks. Dip the asparagus into the egg mixture, then into the almond mixture and place on the baking sheet. Spray the asparagus with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is as tender as you like it and the coating is browning.  If you like, serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the asparagus.

It was easy and very tasty. I really liked the taste of the almonds with the asparagus.


Creamed Onion Soup (or I Made My Kids Cry)

February 15, 2012

Are you sensitive to onions cooking? It doesn’t bother me at all. I can slice and cook onions all day without shedding a tear. I must be a weird genetic mutant, but any time I cook any amount of onion, my kids stagger into the kitchen with tears running down their faces, practically sobbing “Are you cooking onions?!” I turn on the exhaust fan and open the window (yes, even in February) but nothing much seems to help. I tortured them yet again to make this recipe. They will tell their therapist about this when they are older.

There’s a recipe for Onion Bisque in the March issue of Bon Appetit from Le Petite Grocery in New Orleans that I just had to try (even if it made my kids cry). I am a big, huge, giant fan of French onion soup, but I find it hard to eat with the bread and cheese – too complicated. This recipe purees the soup which solves that problem. I’ve adapted it, so here’s my version:

2 tbsp olive oil

3 large sweet onions, peeled and sliced thinly

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 cups chicken broth

3 cups beef broth

3 slices day old whole wheat bread

3 slices Swiss cheese

Heat the oil in a large wide pot over medium low and add the onions. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook another 20 minutes, stirring until onions are a deep golden color. Add the thyme and broths and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Add the bread and cheese to the pot and let it sit for about 10 minutes until the bread is mushy and the cheese is softened. Use a hand blender and puree the soup. Reheat to just barely boiling and serve. Serves 4-6.

It was fan-friggin-tastic. Creamy and smooth and so deeply flavorful it made me moan. The bread thickens it nicely and you get all the flavor of traditional French onion soup without the stringy cheese mess or trying to hack up the bread with your spoon. I’ll be making it this way from now on (tears be damned).


Martha Mondays: Brie and Ham Sandwich

February 13, 2012

Ana at Sweet Almond Tree chose Brie and Ham Sandwich for this week. It was definitely an easy recipe, that’s for sure. I ended up wrapping mine in parchment and putting them in the oven to heat them up and melt the cheese. I also used a ciabatta baguette, which is a little flatter and softer than the baguettes in my store, which I find nearly impossible to bite into. I thought it was fine, but not up to the complicated standard most of Martha’s recipes reach! I felt like it just cried out for something more. Maybe a slice of tomato or a tiny bit of raspberry preserves, just something to make it interesting and different. Not that I didn’t enjoy it  – I did and so did Mr. MarthaAndMe, who was raised on what his mother calls “hot ham sandwiches.”

We’re taking a break for next week, and I’ll be choosing our project for 2/27 which I will post soon.


Martha Mondays: Soft Pretzels (and cheese dip)

February 6, 2012

Tiny Skillet chose soft pretzels for our project this week, which worked out well with the Super Bowl. I’ve made soft pretzels before, but these were really good. The pretzels had a fluffy texture that I really, really liked and I think it is because you cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter. Genius. I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for half of the flour in this and was fantastic. I put salt on half and cinnamon sugar on the other half (my kids like them this way). I also made cheese dip to go with these:

2 tbsp butter

3 slices American cheese

4 tablespoons skim milk

pinch ground mustard

pinch pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon light cream cheese

I dump it all in a pan and heat over low to medium, stirring until it is completely melted.


Challah

January 11, 2012

In the winter I usually take on a baking project each weekend. This past weekend I decided to make challah, which probably should count as a dessert, not a bread! It was delicious and made two giant loaves. I use a recipe I adapted from fellow writer Lynne Meredith Schreiber:

Dissolve 2 1/2 tablespoons yeast in 1 cup warm water with 1 tablespoon sugar. Allow to proof for about 10 minutes.

To this add:

1 cup warm water

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon salt

4 eggs

1 1/4 cup sugar

7 cups bread flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Knead for 5 minutes then place in a greased bowl and allow to rise for 2 hours. Divide in half and then divide each half into thirds. Roll these out like logs that are about 2 feet long. Place 3 of them on a baking sheet and smush one end together. Braid the three pieces and smush the other end. Do the same with the other 3 logs. Allow to rise about an hour. Brush with an egg wash and bake at 325 for  30-40 minutes, rotating shelves and direction of the pans, until light golden brown and the bread feels cooked in the center when you touch it.

This is enough for 4 meals for my family of 4. I think in the future I might make it into 4 smaller loaves, so you can definitely try that as well.


Scallops with Citrus Sauce

December 14, 2011

This is a recipe I make very often because it’s just so easy, but it also tastes really complex like you spent a lot of time on it!

I start with making the sauce. In a saucepan combine 1/2 tbsp butter, 1 cup orange juice, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium and cook until it is reduced to a syrupy sauce, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside.

I use about 12 sea scallops for this one. In the summer I like to grill scallops, but in the winter, I pan fry them. When you cook scallops you want to first make sure you rinse them well to get rid of grit. Then you want to peel off the little muscle on the side. Then it’s very important to completely dry them so they will caramelize.

For this recipe, I get the pan very hot and melt 1/2 tbsp butter and 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Then I drop in the scallops (which have been seasoned with salt and pepper). Be sure you have a big enough pan, so there is about an inch or so between the scallops. If you don’t, they will boil in their juices instead of caramelizing. Cook about 2-3 minutes, then flip. Cook until cooked through, another 2-3 minutes.

Remove the scallops and pour the sauce into the scallop pan. Heat the sauce, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Serve with the scallops. This is good served over rice too.


Chicken With Balsamic Pears

December 2, 2011

I recently made this as a spin on the recipe in October Everyday Food for Turkey with Balsamic Pears. Instead of the turkey, I used 4 small chicken breasts. This recipe seemed to take forever to make! I guess there were just a lot of steps and different combos to cook at different times. It turned out nicely though. If  I made this again, I think I would cook the chicken only about halfway first, then I would add it back in when I added the pears, so that the flavors of the sauce could permeate the chicken more. I might even marinate the chicken in the broth/balsamic/mustard mix for a bit.

I really enjoyed having pears in a completely different way. It was a nice fall meal.


%d bloggers like this: