Monthly Archives: May 2012

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Bryan and I love wasabi (Japanese horseradish) particularly when it’s made fresh from wasabi powder. While the kids are not as keen on wasabi, they do love these mashed potatoes. They have just the right amount of heat (and bite) to make you come back for more. I serve these with my Soy Ginger Marinated Flank Steak, but they’re great with just grilled steak or even grilled chicken. If you are going for the Asian flavor, the addition of sesame oil adds just what you need. As with any mashed potatoes, adjust the amount of butter, cream (you can substitute milk if you’d like), salt, and, in this case, wasabi powder. I actually used wild garlic chives, but regular chives are fine; you can substitute green onions for chives, or leave the green stuff out altogether.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 Lbs. Yukon Gold or White Potatoes – peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 5 TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 2-4 TBS. Wasabi Powder
  • 1 TBS. Sesame Oil (optional)
  • 1 Cup Fresh Chives – finely chopped (can substitute green onions – use green parts only)
  • Salt to taste (I use 1-2 TBS.)

 

 

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Fill a large stockpot (3/4 full) with water and bring to a boil over high heat. When water boils, add potatoes and cook until fork tender (5-10 minutes depending on type of potato and size of cubes). While waiting for potatoes, heat butter and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat – do not allow to boil. When potatoes are cooked, drain and return to stockpot. Add heated cream mixture, chives or green onions, sesame oil (if using), salt  and 2 TBS. of wasabi powder. Using a hand mixer or potato masher, whip potatoes to desired consistency. Taste for flavor and add more wasabi powder and/or salt as needed. Serve immediately, or cover and keep in warm oven until ready to serve (you may need to add some cream if they dry out a little).

Greek Style Orzo Salad

Greek Style Orzo Salad

I have a friend who makes the best orzo salad – we have coined it the “Million Dollar Orzo Salad” because the cost of the ingredients warrants taking a second (or, in my case, third) job. I hope she might guest blog for me in the future, but, in the meantime, I will share with you my version of a Greek Pasta Salad. The reason I like using orzo pasta in a salad is that the pasta doesn’t overpower the “salad.” Trust me, I was the queen of pasta salad in the 1980’s, but I’ve moved away from pasta drenched in Italian dressing with random vegetables. I like to focus on a theme and work to highlight the flavors associated with such. So, here’s my Greek Pasta Salad. As always, I encourage you to add your own twists. I used a bottled dressing in this version (we were heading out for Memorial Day Weekend and I was short on time and we have the luxury of Leo’s Coney Island which sells their dressing), but I’ve included a tried and true homemade dressing. A couple of notes: use a spoon to scrape out and remove the seeds from  the cucumbers. Use whatever tomatoes look best, but my experience has been that the cherry and grape tomatoes are the most reliable (flavor-wise) year-round. For herbs, you could use mint – a Greek classic, but I find it somewhat overpowering, so I stick with oregano and basil (in my opinion, you can NEVER go wrong with basil). When it comes to the feta cheese, you can save some fat calories by using nonfat feta, but you will notice a huge difference in texture – nonfat/lowfat feta is very dry. If anything, go half and half on the feta.I much prefer to buy the feta in a whole block and crumble it to the size of my liking. If you buy crumbled feta, you lose control of the size of the feta in the salad. With any pasta salad, adjust the amount of dressing to your liking (I’m not trying to be vague, but this is a personal preference kind of thing). I prefer this salad room temperature, but refrigerate as necessary. Serves 12.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Boxes Orzo Pasta
  • 2 English Cucumbers – seeded and chopped
  • 2 Packages Cherry or Grape Tomatoes – cut into quarters
  • 1 Cup Pitted Kalmata Olives
  • 2 Packages Whole Feta Cheese (12 Oz.)
  • 1/2 Red Onion – finely chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
  • 4 TBS. Chopped Fresh Oregano (or 2 TBS. dried)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2- 3/4 Cup Greek Dressing – (use bottled or see below for homemade recipe)

For the Greek Dressing:

  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/8 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (about 1 Lemon)
  • 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Clove Garlic – finely minced
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Oregano (or 1/2 TBS. Dried)
  • 1-2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil1/2 Cup Canola (Vegetable) Oil

Combine all ingredients except oils in a blender. After well blended, add olive oil and canola in a steady stream while machine is on medium. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain under cold water until thoroughly cooled; transfer to a large bowl . Add chopped onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, basil, and oregano to pasta and mix well. Crumble and add feta cheese to mixture and combine. Add about 1/3 cup of dressing and mix well. Add additional dressing until salad is coated to your liking. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Classic Potato Salad

Classic Potato Salad

This classic potato salad recipe is a Memorial Day staple. While I’m not a huge fan of potato salad and don’t eat if often, I do prefer it prepared simply. I’ve had all sorts of versions, some with so many eggs it is yellow, some with lots of mustard, and some which is sweet from relish; you can modify this recipe to incorporate any of those elements.  We were fortunate enough to be invited to a friend’s cottage this Memorial Day weekend and the only condition was that I make the potato salad. I was more than happy to oblige. I did have a bit of a potato tragedy – a one pound bag of Yukon gold potatoes cooked down to almost nothing. Luckily we had an extra bag of redskin potatoes. The near tragedy had a positive outcome – I actually really liked the combination of the two types of potatoes. The Yukons have a softer consistency, while the redskins maintained their firmness, so the combination of the two was great. We enjoyed the potato salad with beef tenderloin which was perfectly marinated and grilled. It just so happened that it was my birthday, so we celebrated a little bit more than usual! Serves 10 (with leftovers).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 Lbs. Boiling Potatoes (Yukon Gold, White Potatoes, or Redskins)
  • 6 large Eggs
  • 5 Stalks of Celery- chopped
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion- finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 Cups Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. Dry Mustard
  • 2 TBS. Dried Dill
  • 1 tsp. Celery Salt
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Fill a large saucepan with water and add eggs. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Allow eggs to stay in water for 18 minutes. In the meantime, fill a stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Peel potatoes and cut into 3/4 inch cubes. Add potatoes to boiling water and cook until fork tender but not soft (about 6-8 minutes). Drain potatoes and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Peel hard boiled eggs and chop. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except mayonnaise and salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of mayonnaise and mix thoroughly; add remaining mayonnaise as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Chill before serving.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice Baked Potato

These twice baked potatoes are always a hit; they are delicious and impressive looking, but they are really easy to prepare.  Since they travel well and just need to be reheated before serving, they are great if you need to take a side dish to someone’s house. I actually have quite a few variations for fillings, but this is a simple one and is great if you don’t want the flavors to compete with the other dishes. Certainly you can add other ingredients if you’d like. Some great additions are: crumbled bacon, chopped scallions, crabmeat, or lobster meat. You can also use different types of cheese, but choose ones that will melt well. I love the gruyere because it’s not overpowering and has a bit of a nutty flavor. The parmigano and romano add a lot of flavor; you could substitute a nice blue cheese for flavor. If you can’t find creme fraiche, you can substitute sour cream. However, most supermarkets now carry creme fraiche in the dairy section near the sour cream, or you can make your own.

To make your own creme fraiche: simply combine 1 cup of whipping cream with 2 TBS. of buttermilk in a glass bowl or jar; cover and let sit at room temperature (about 70 degrees) for 8-24 hours until thickened.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Large Russet (Baking) Potatoes
  • 1 Large Shallot – finely chopped
  • 4 TBS. Fresh Chives – chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Creme Fraiche
  • 6 TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 4 Oz. Pecorino Romano – grated
  • 3 Oz. Parmigano Reggiano- grated
  • 3 Oz. Gruyere Cheese – grated
  • 1 Egg – slightly beaten
  • 3-5 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 3-4 TBS. Kosher Salt
  • Salt and Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees. Scrub potatoes and dry them. Drench potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt and ground pepper. Set a piece of aluminum foil, large enough to hold the potatoes, on the center rack of the oven . Bake potatoes at 375 degrees for 75 minutes – skin should be slightly crisp and potatoes should give slightly when squeezed. While potatoes are cooking, saute shallots in butter over medium heat. Remove potatoes from oven, set on cooling rack and allow to cool for about 30 minutes or until cool enough to handle.  Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, gently scoop out the insides and put in a bowl. When scooping out the potatoes insides, be careful not to scoop so deep as to break the skin.  Add creme fraiche, chives, cheeses, sauteed shallots with butter and salt and pepper to potatoes and, using a potato masher,  mix until thoroughly combined. Add more creme fraiche if mixture seems too dry. Return the potato mixture to the skins. Place the stuffed potatoes on a baking sheet and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the tops are slightly browned and the insides are heated through. Serve with extra creme fraiche on the side. Garnish with fresh chopped chives or parsley. Serves 8 (or 6 with leftovers – they reheat very well.)

B.E.L.T – Bacon, Egg Salad, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich

B.E.L.T Sandwich pictured with Homemade Potato Chips

I feel odd about posting such a simple sandwich (particularly one month late), but Easter had come and gone, and I was faced with what to do with the remaining hard boiled Easter eggs. I love egg salad, but my kids have always been skeptical. I solved the problem by adding bacon to the egg salad sandwich and making it a Bacon Egg Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. After all, bacon improves everything! I used a hearty whole grain bread which I toasted. To me, the crispier the better; the crispy bread and bacon add great contrast to the egg salad. The sandwich is a little cumbersome, so you’ll want to have forks readily available. As you can see, I didn’t skimp on the egg salad; you could certainly use less and the sandwich wouldn’t be quite so messy. In general, however, this is not the sandwich to serve at an elegant ladies tea, but it makes a great hearty weeknight dinner.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 Large Hard Boiled Eggs (see below instructions for boiling the perfect egg)
  • 1/3 -1/2 Cup Real Mayonnaise
  • 1 TBS. Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. Celery Salt
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6-8 Slices of good quality Bacon
  • 1 Large Tomato – 4-8 thin slices (depending on circumference of tomato)
  • 4 Leaves of Green Lettuce

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook the bacon in a skillet on the stove, or in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Set on paper towel to drain.

To Prepare the eggs: Allow eggs to come to room temperature. Place eggs in a medium sized saucepan and cover with water (water should be at least 2 inches above tops of eggs). Over high heat, bring to a boil. Once water boils, remove pan from heat and allow eggs to sit for 14-15 minutes. HINT: I always boil and extra “tester” egg which then goes to the dog. After 14-15 minutes, run the eggs under cold water until completely cooled.

Chop the eggs into a small dice. Mix in 1/3 cup of mayonnaise – add additional mayonnaise a little bit at a time until desired creaminess is reached. Add Dijon mustard and celery salt, mix well and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toast bread and assemble sandwiches – spread about 1/2 inch of egg salad on bottom piece of toast, add bacon slices, tomato, and lettuce – top with another piece of toast.

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

OK, so collard greens is not the sexiest post, but it’s a delicious necessity. We eat them every New Year’s Day (there’s a whole good luck tradition that I will share as we get a little closer to the New Year – now that we know the Mayan prediction was misunderstood). I love bitter greens if they are cooked properly, and they are just so fitting with fried chicken or anything barbequed. You can easily substitute Mustard or other greens in this recipe. You can also substitute a ham hock or smoked turkey wing, but I am partial to the turkey leg because I add some of the shredded meat to the greens. It seems that turkey legs are usually sold in pairs – which makes sense since a turkey would naturally have two. Because of this, I usually keep one in my freezer (or, rather, in one of my three freezers). If you find yourself in a home invasion situation or any other threatening situation in which you are in need of a good weapon to clock someone over the head (I think the lamp is awkward), don’t underestimate the potential of the frozen turkey leg. Hopefully, the only good use you will be putting your frozen turkey leg to is for collard greens, but I felt the versatility of the turkey leg was noteworthy enough to point out. While you know I am an advocate of local farm market produce, most greens require a lot of washing and picking over; for this reason, I almost always buy them in the bag. However, I do still pick them over and cut out some of the thicker stems. The stems will cook down just fine and taste perfectly good, but from a presentation standpoint, I prefer not to have too many really thick stems. Cooking the greens in broth really tempers the bitterness, but you could make them vegetarian by cooking in vegetable stock and eliminating the smoked meat. Note the cook time – if you want tender greens, plan on at least 60 minutes. This recipe serves 6-8 as a side dish.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Lbs. Collard Greens (or 3 bags washed, cleaned, cut)
  • 1 Smoked Turkey Leg
  • 1 Qt. Chicken or Turkey Broth
  •  1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • Cayenne Pepper or splash of favorite hot sauce (optional)
  • 2 TBS. Apple Cider Vinegar (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Thoroughly rinse collard greens. Remove the stem of the larger leaves. Cut into pieces about 2″x2″. In a large stockpot, heat chicken broth over medium. Add turkey leg to broth. Working in batches, add collard greens to the pot and cover. After one batch has wilted and reduced in size, add another batch. After all greens have been added, add crushed red pepper, cover and simmer over medium heat for 60 minutes. After 60 minutes,  remove the turkey leg and set aside to cool. Continue cooking greens for another 15-30 minutes until very tender.Drain the greens (but not to the point of being dry) reserving a bit of the cooking liquid. After the turkey leg has cooled, strip off some of the meat and finely chop. Add the chopped turkey meat to the greens, season with salt and pepper and cayenne pepper if desired. Use reserved cooking liquid if greens are dry, or use it for reheating.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

I decided to make this Shepherd’s pie in an effort to use up the thousands of pounds of leftover buttermilk mashed potatoes we had (I’m quite sure Bryan trained as an army cook).  I really hadn’t heard of Shepherd’s pie until I moved to New England where it appears on the menus of most family style restaurants. The dish is often made with ground beef, but if it is, it’s not technically Shepherd’s pie. Being an English teacher makes me a bit of an etymologist as well; so let’s be clear- a shepherd is one who herds sheep, not cattle. Hence, Shepherd’s pie should be made with lamb. Given my penchant for lamb, this is the ultimate casserole. There are some variables with this dish (not including the type of meat you use). Some people start with a layer of mashed potatoes and then top the dish with more mashed potatoes (not a bad idea when you have thousands of pounds of leftover potatoes). Some people layer the vegetables as well, rather than mixing them with the meat. And then there is the whole debate about which vegetables are traditional. Carrots, peas and corn are the most often included. I suggest you do as I do, and include the vegetables your family likes. This proved to be quite eye-opening for me because I was under the misguided impression that my family members did not like peas – they informed me otherwise, and I included peas. Finally, there is the question of how to serve the “pie.” You can make one large casserole and serve from that, or you can make individual servings (I did both, but the photos are only of the individual servings because I froze the large one). This dish is easy to make, and you could certainly add a shortcut by using store bought mashed potatoes. As for the family rating, out of the mouth’s of babes came: “Why don’t we have this more often?”

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Lbs. Ground Lamb
  • 1 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Chopped Onion
  • 1 Cup Chopped Carrots (about 2 carrots)
  • 1 Cup Peas (frozen- thawed)
  • 1 Can of Corn or 1/2 Cups Frozen Corn
  • 2 TBS. Chopped Garlic
  • 2 TBS. Thyme (fresh is preferable)
  • 1 TBS. Rosemary
  • 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 5 TBS. Flour
  • 4 TBS. Tomato Paste
  • 3 TBS. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 6-8 Cups Mashed Potatoes (link to Buttermilk Mashed Potato Recipe)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large saute pan over medium heat, cook ground lamb. Drain off excess fat, mix in flour and set aside. Heat olive oil over medium heat, add garlic, chopped carrots and chopped onion. Saute until onion is translucent and carrots are tender.  Add carrots, onion, and all remaining ingredients except for mashed potatoes to the lamb mixture and combine thoroughly. Add mixture to a baking dish, or individual oven proof dishes to form a layer about an inch and a half thick. Layer the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture. Set baking dish on a foil lined baking sheet (you will likely get some bubble over) and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes (potatoes should be brown on the edges). Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Lamb and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Morel Mushrooms

Lamb and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Sage Cream Sauce

The filling in this ravioli is exquisitely rich with a mild, but distinctive, flavor. You could substitute ricotta cheese, but the goat cheese has a nice subtle tangy quality that goes perfectly with the lamb. I’ve experimented with this dish a couple of times and have tried different complimentary flavors. The problem is that I can’t decide which I like best, so I think  it’s only fitting to incorporate them all.  Please note that the pictures show various stages/results.

The first time I made the ravioli, I prepared a plain pasta dough and a mushroom flavored pasta dough to make bi-colored ravioli. The flavor was outstanding, but the texture was not my favorite. I pureed the mushrooms as best I could, but they stubbornly retained some of their texture; I probably could have added even more oil to the puree, but I was worried about compromising the pasta dough. I have since found a recipe for porcini mushroom pasta which uses porcini mushroom powder (you make the powder by pureeing dried mushrooms, so you could use any dried mushrooms). I have included the link below, but I have to admit that I have not yet tried the recipe.

I added some sauteed morel mushrooms to the finished ravioli; I love the earthy flavors of the mushrooms and the lamb (you could use whatever mushrooms you like or are readily available). Finally, I decided to incorporate some pumpkin; so, in addition to the sage cream sauce, I added some swirls of pumpkin cream sauce. The slight addition was a nice touch without overpowering the dish with pumpkin flavor. So, my final vote goes to using unflavored ravioli with a lamb and goat cheese filling,  sauteed wild mushrooms (morels if they are available), and a smothering of the delicate sage cream sauce with just a few accents of pumpkin cream sauce. I have included a recipe for basic pasta dough and some links for decent “how to” videos.  If you don’t want to make your own pasta dough, store-bought wonton wrappers are a quick and easy (and perfectly acceptable) substitute. Also, you don’t have to have a pasta machine to make homemade pasta, you can roll it out by hand and cut it.  If you decide to venture out, you will likely be amazed and delighted by homemade pasta; but let’s be real…when it comes to convenience, you can’t compete with the boxed pasta.

Recommended preparation schedule:

(I recommend reading through the entire blog and checking out some of the suggested videos before you begin).

Prepare the meat portion of the filling. While the filling is cooling, prepare the pasta dough. While pasta dough is resting, add cheese to meat filling. Roll out pasta dough, fill and cut raviolis. Set raviolis aside (single layer on a well floured surface). Prepare cream sauce (and saute some mushrooms if you’d like). Cook raviolis, top with cream sauce (s), garnish with sage leaf or parsley sprig and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Homemade pasta video:http://video.about.com/italianfood/How-to-Make-Fresh-Pasta.htm

Homemade pasta using a stand mixer (video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31ztSCuPR7Y

Porcini mushroom pasta recipe: http://www.cuisinivity.com/recipe/archive/entrees/porchini_fettucini_mushroomsauce.php

FOR THE LAMB AND GOAT CHEESE FILLING:

  • 1 Medium Leek (white and light green parts only) – finely chopped*
  • 1 Lb. Ground Lamb
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 TBS. Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • 4 – 8 Oz. Goat Cheese (plain)**

* You can substitute green onion, sweet onion, or chives

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add leeks (or onions) and garlic and saute until leeks are wilted or onions are translusent. Add ground lamb to pan and cook thoroughly. Remove from heat, drain off excess fat, and allow mixture to cool. When mixture is cooled, add goat cheese, cayenne pepper and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  ** I only used 4 oz. of goat cheese, but if you want more of a cheese filled ravioli, you’ll want to use more cheese.

FOR THE HOMEMADE RAVIOLI DOUGH:

  • 3 1/2 Cups Flour (or a combination of regular flour and semolina flour)
  • 5 Large Eggs
  • Egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 TBS. water)

There are a couple of variables that will effect the consistency of your dough, in particular, the size of your eggs. It may be necessary to add more flour to your dough until you achieve an elastic, workable, dough ball that does not stick to your hands . If your dough seems to need more liquid, you can add a little water, but this is frowned upon by purists, so I err on the side of starting with less flour since it can easily be added.

Rather than give the detailed instructions for making the pasta (there are a variety of methods depending on your equipment) I am including a link to a good description of the process. If using a pasta machine, you may not want to go to the thinnest setting or your ravioli will be difficult to fill, cut, and cook without it tearing.

http://www.mangiabenepasta.com/rollncut.html

Cut your pasta into strips about 2 ” wide strips (you can go wider or narrower depending on how you like your ravioli. Starting 1 ” from the end, add about 1 TBS. of filling. Repeat process by adding filling every 2″. Using a pastry brush, brush all edges with egg wash. Cover bottom strip with another strip of similar length. Using a pasta cutter or knife, cut into squares so that filling is in center of the square. If using a pasta cutter/crimper, crimp all sides of the ravioli to seal. If you don’t have a pasta cutter, Use your fingers to tightly seal all sides of the ravioli.  You can use a fork to crimp edges. For a good demonstration (although the shape is half moon rather than square), watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnj-chlS_WQ&feature=fvwrel

Cook the ravioli in salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes (cook time depends on how thin your pasta dough was). The raviolis will float to the top as they cook, but I recommend testing one for doneness. The filling is cooked, so all you need to worry about is how tender you want the pasta.

For the Sage Cream Sauce:

  • 4 TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 TBS. Fresh Sage – chopped
  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream*
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese – grated
  • Salt and Pepper

Over medium heat, saute sage in butter. Add cream and reduce by 1/2. Add Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.

*You can reduce fat and calories by substituting 1/2 and 1/2 or whole milk, but the sauce will be noticeably less rich.

If you’d like to accent the plate with some pumpkin cream sauce, simply combine equal parts of cream sauce with canned pumpkin.

Some pictures:

Step One of making the dough

Adding Mushroom Mixture to Dough

Combine Two Types of Dough to form Bi-Colored Mushroom Ravioli Dough

Lamb and Goat Cheese Filled Bi-Colored Ravioli

Another Dinner for Three

Lobster Frittata

Lobster Frittata with Avocado Cream Sauce

Although I typically think of frittatas as breakfast food, I made this as an appetizer. I served it with an avocado cream sauce and baby arugula simply dressed with olive oil lemon juice and salt an pepper. The frittata was really a result of what I had in my refrigerator; it contains mashed potatoes, leeks, feta cheese and, the star ingredient, lobster. OK, so I didn’t exactly have the lobster in my fridge, but I did have it in my freezer (we bought a dozen tails when they were on sale and we froze them). You could easily substitute crab meat or shrimp. You can also change the cheese based on what you have on hand, but I like the salty flavor of the feta. I made a simple avocado cream sauce to go with the frittata, but it really doesn’t require a sauce. Again, it’s a flexible dish,  and so less cliche than quiche, so pair it with whatever sounds good and is accessible, or serve it as a stand alone for breakfast.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup of Cream (1/2/ and 1/2 or Light Cream)
  • 1/2 Cup Mashed Potatoes (leftover or store bought)
  • 8 Oz. Lobster Meat (about 2 Tails)- Cooked and roughly chopped
  • 2 Scallions – finely chopped (or any combination of leeks, chives, or wild onions)
  • 2 TBS. Parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2 Oz. Feta Cheese (or cheese of your choice)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste*
  • 1-2 TBS. Olive Oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large non-reactive bowl, whisk together eggs and cream. Mix in mashed potatoes and combine until smooth. Fold in the lobster, scallions, parsley, and cheese.

Coat a 9 inch square pan with olive oil; pour mixture into pan and bake for about 30 minutes until set and cooked through (insert a toothpick into the center; if it comes out clean, the custard is cooked). Allow to rest for 10 minutes; cut into desired sized squares and serve immediately.

* Vary the amount of salt you use based on the saltiness of your cheese and seafood. Remember – you can always add salt, but you can’t take it away.

Avocado Cream Sauce:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Cloves Garlic-finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2  Avocado – well-mashed or pureed in blender
  • Salt and Freshly Ground pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Over medium flame, heat butter and garlic until garlic is fragrant. Add cream and reduce (about 5 minutes). Add mashed avocado and lime juice (if using) and season with salt and pepper.

Ramp and Fiddlehead Risotto

Fiddlehead and Ramp Risotto

My apologies for the lack of blogging over the last week; my Dad passed away just over a week ago. For those of you who have read through some of my other posts, you will know that after my Dad became ill with cancer, he became a fan of the Food Network. He was never very interested in cooking, probably because my mother was such a good cook, but when he would go through a “phase” like his panini phase, homemade pasta phase, homemade bread phase, or risotto phase, he would achieve absolute mastery in whatever phase he was in. I made this risotto a couple of weeks ago when I was enthralled with the spring bounty available. I’m posting it today because my Dad taught me how to make risotto. I don’t think he ever made this particular type, but I imagine he would have liked it!

If you like asparagus, you’ll like fiddleheads, and ramps are like a delicate cross between a leek and a green onion. Both are only available for a short while in the spring. Fiddleheads are actually emerging ferns (or “fronds”), but edible fiddleheads only come from the ostrich fern. So, while it’s tempting to go out and forage for your own food (particularly when he see the price of fiddleheads), I don’t recommend this unless you have a background in botany. Not all fern fronds are edible and some are carcinogenic. It is also important to cook the fiddleheads thoroughly as they have been known to carry food borne illness. In this recipe the fiddleheads are boiled and then sauteed; sauteing alone is not recommended. Sometimes the fiddleheads have a bit of their brown papery skin still on them; you want to remove all of this as it makes the fiddleheads taste bitter. I’ve heard of different techniques for cleaning them (shake in a brown paper bag), but I find it easiest to just wash them thoroughly in a colander and take care to remove any brown bits.

One final note, I used bacon in my risotto (if you follow my blog you know about the amazing bacon I buy from a local farm); I think it would be great with pancetta. For a vegetarian option just leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice
  • 1/2 Cup Ramps (cleaned and chopped – both white and green portions)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Fiddleheads (cleaned)
  • 2-3 Slices Bacon or Pancetta
  • 2 TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 6-8 Cups Chicken Stock or Broth
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine
  • 1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a medium saucepan, bring 4-6 cups (enough to cover fiddleheads) of water to a boil. Boil fiddelheads for 15 minutes and drain. In the meantime, chop the bacon and add to a medium sized saute pan. Cook the bacon thoroughly. Add the ramps and fiddleheads and saute until ramps are wilted. Add chicken stock to medium saucepan and heat to just below boiling- keep on stove at a simmer. In a separate saucepan (medium to large) heat butter; add risotto to pan and saute for a few minutes until rice is well coated. Add wine, and then,using a ladle, add about 1 cup of the simmering chicken stock to the risotto. Stirring constantly, cook until broth is absorbed and repeat process of adding stock and cooking to absorption. Continue this until risotto is creamy and tender with just a little firmness to the bite. Add bacon, ramp, and fiddlehead mixture, along with parmesan cheese, to the risotto and serve immediately.