This is a recipe from my childhood. Something my mom came up with that became a family favorite. It is lightening fast-you can have the sauce done from beginning to end in the time it takes to cook dry pasta. It’s also very healthful and absolutely delicious. It sounds a bit odd, but just try it-you’ll be a convert!
I hate the texture of cooked greens, but love the flavor of spinach, so this is a favourite of mine. It can also be done with an equal amount of pretty much any relatively tender green, like chard. Use whatever type of pasta you prefer, we always had it on spaghetti growing up, but I put it on anything. This batch we had with gorgonzola medaglioni, which was really super.
2 6oz bags spinach, baby or mature, it doesn’t matter
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
3/4 C milk
Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste
1lb dry pasta
Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. meanwhile, make the sauce.
In a large skillet, saute the onion and garlic until it’s translucent. Add the spinach and cook until it has completely wilted. (add the pasta to the pot whenever it starts boiling)
Transfer the veggies to a blender and blend with the milk. Check the pasta, and when it’s done drain it and put it back in the pot.
Toss sauce with the hot pasta and add Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.
While they don’t mesh well with the classic garden salad, candied nuts are great to add crunch to any salad with a sweet note. Say, a salad with fruit, or even just greens with a sweet vinaigrette. Toss some candied nuts in and it will add enough protein to make your salad a meal. Incidentally, they are also delicious for snacking
This is a very basic recipe-you can add all kinds of things to it to make it whatever you want.
2C nuts(walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, whatever nut you like) in large, forkable chunks(I used walnut halves)
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Line a baking sheet with greased tinfoil or a silpat. set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the sugar, nuts and salt. Cook, stirring continuously, til the sugar and butter have melted together and turned a lovely brown color. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla-it will bubble and hiss, but just stir it in.
Turn the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet and let them cool. Once they’ve cooled down, break them apart with your hands and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 2 cups of candied nuts
To the standard recipe, you can add all kinds of spices. It’s a great recipe to experiment with, but here are some idea
-a teaspoon of smoked paprika
-A pinch of cayenne if you like things spicy
-a quarter teaspoon each allspice, cinnamon and a pinch of cloves
-a teaspoon of chinese 5 spice powder
-a teaspoon of garam masala, toasted in the skillet before you add the butter
Be imaginative My favorite variation is smoked paprika, cayenne and cinnamon. It’s great with mangoes, peaches, and poppyseed dressing!
Pies are one of those infinitely versatile things. sweet or savory, healthy or not, any ingredients you wish, pie can do it! This is a slightly french inspired spring vegetable pie with a mildly creamy gravy. It’s a perfect meal for those days when it feels like spring, but the weather is still chilly enough to want something substantial.
The pie crust here is the culmination of years of trying to figure out the secret to a really good whole wheat pie crust. All too often whole wheat pastry tends to be soggy, or rock hard, or tough, or any number of fatal pastry flaws. This crust, however, is nutty tasting, light and flaky, and BONUS-stays delicious even after the pie has sat for several days in the fridge. You can substitute shortening for the butter and have an equally good crust-even flakier than the butter crust-but with the whole wheat flour I prefer the flavor that butter adds. If you have a food processor, you’ll want to use it here. It’s not hard to make a pie crust by hand, but the food processor does it so much better.
2 leeks, rinsed and sliced
1 potato, scrubbed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
2 C vegetable broth
1.5tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp flour
8 stalks asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
1 C frozen peas
2 green onions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
1/4 C minced parsley
salt to taste
2C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 C butter
1 tsp salt
1/2-1C cold water
Preheat the oven to 350.
First, make the crust. If you have a food processor, put the flour, salt and butter in and pulse till it resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly drizzle in the water while continuing to pulse, stopping when the dough comes together into a ball. If you do not have a food processor, cut the butter into the flour and salt with a fork or a pastry cutter, and then stir the water in tablespoon by tablespoon, until it is a dough.
Cover the dough and set aside to rest while you make the filling.
In a small to medium pot, saute the leeks in the butter until they’re just beginning to soften. Then add the potatoes, carrots, thyme, white pepper and broth. cover and simmer for 15 min or until the potatoes are almost done. Whisk the flour into the milk and add to the pot. Cook until it thickens, stirring to prevent lumps. Once the liquid has thickened, turn off the heat and stir in the asparagus, peas, parsley and green onion. Taste, and add however much salt you think it needs.
Now back to the crust. Cut it into two equal pieces and roll the first one out on parchment paper or a floured countertop. Line the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch standard pie pan and trim the excess from the edges. Pour in the filling from the pot, roll out the other crust, and lay it on top. Trim off the excess crust and pinch the edges of the top and bottom crusts together. Cut some vent holes in the top and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until it is golden brown and delicious looking. Let it cool for about 10 minutes before cutting.
Makes 1 8 or 9 inch pie. Serves 4-6
However, it does mean I get an excuse to make my favorite summer recipes. I love traditional pasta salad (hold the eggs, please and thank you) but it is decidedly not a healthy meal. Instead, I make this veggie-packed, yogurt dressed pasta salad, and feel good about myself doing it! I love foods like that I’m generally not a fan of foods turned low fat, so I have made this an “inspired by” dish, instead. It’s not trying to be traditional pasta salad, it’s a new thing that’s delicious in its own way. The yogurt-ness is muted by mayonnaise, and fresh herbs make it pop. Its got more vegetables than pasta. The whole thing is just clean and fresh tasting. Yum!
For the salad-
1C dry pasta, any bite size shape
1/2 C carrots, in bite size pieces
1/2 C asparagus, in bite size pieces
1/2 C snow peas, in bite size pieces
1/2C cucumber, in bite size pieces
1/2 C tomato, in bite size pieces
1/2 C sprouts
For the dressing-
2/3 C greek yogurt
1/2 C mayo (Or you can use all yogurt, if you prefer)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
3 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp minced fresh dill(or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley(or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, traditional or vegan
salt and pepper, to taste
Whisk together dressing ingredients. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook and drain it, and put it in a bowl. refill the pot with salted water, and bring it to a boil again. When it is boiling, add the carrots and cook 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and snow peas and boil 1 minute more. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, and add to the bowl with the pasta.
To the bowl with the cooked veggies and pasta, add the rest of the vegetables and stir in the dressing. Let it sit in the refrigerator a few hours to let the flavors meld, and then enjoy!
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side. Multiples beautifully for taking to picnics!
See, salads make me feel great, but I don’t enjoy eating them. Besides, I am usually hungry not too long after if I have a salad for a meal.
I’ve figured out a lot of different add-ins and techniques that make frequent salads much more interesting, and more substantial. Some of them are very common, and some are not so common, and I plan on sharing them with you over the next few weeks.
Today’s salad addition is the oh-so familiar crouton. Sure, you can buy croutons, but you can make much better ones with only a few minutes of hands-on time.
3 cups bread, cubed(any good-textured bread will do, though stale is better. I used the end of a loaf of italian bread from the grocery store)
3tbsp olive oil
3tbsp butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to your preference
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375. Whisk together the olive oil, butter, garlic, and salt and pepper. Put the cubes of bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil mixture. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with the cheese and toss again. Bake in the oven until dry and crispy, about 30 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Omit the cheese and replace the butter with more olive oil for a vegan version
Add fresh(1 tbsp) or dried(1 tsp) herbs with the Parmesan cheese.
Use cornbread or other unique breads. Any bread will work, but if the bread is a quick bread(like cornbread, made without yeast) it will need to be baked slightly longer, and at a lower temperature(325)
Most mornings, I have greek yogurt topped with some combination of sweeteners and spiced fruit. Some of them are better than others, but my latest combination has been my breakfast for weeks with no sign of any new competitor.
Simple. Quick. Healthy. Delicious. All you could ever ask from a recipe.
1/2C plain greek yogurt
2-4 tbsp honey
1/2 a pear , chopped
2 tbsp minced crystallized ginger
Measure all the ingredients into a bowl. Stir. Enjoy. Feel virtuous all day!
The Reuben on St Patrick’s day tradition has always seemed odd to me. I know its exact origin is unknown, but it seems more like a German/Jewish invention to me(even though, yes, corned beef and cabbage are very Irish). I don’t really care-any chance to eat a cheesy, gooey grilled sandwich is fine by me!
It really pays to use good sauerkraut here. Something from glass or plastic, not metal. The metal containers react with the sauerkraut and make it taste tinny. I used homemade sauerkraut I canned, but there’s no need to go that far if you don’t want to!
My recipe for russian dressing is a little more complicated than other recipes, but it’s worth it, I promise. Serve sweet potato fries with your sandwich and use the extra dressing for dipping-Yum.
For the dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons chopped curly parsley leaves
1 tablespoon minced Spanish onion
1 tablespoon minced dill pickle
1/2 teaspoon grated horseradish
dash Worcestershire sauce(vegetarian or traditional, either one!)
Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.
1 package of tempeh, cut into four flat “cakes”
8 slices rye bread
1-2 cups sauerkraut, drained
4 slices swiss cheese
4 tbsp(1/2 stick) of butter
Coat the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil and put it over medium-high heat. fry the tempeh until golden brown on both sides and set aside.
Now turn the heat down to medium and put in the sauerkraut. It’s already drained, but you want to drive out the last bit of moisture in it, otherwise it will make the sandwich soggy. Once the last of the obvious liquid is gone, remove the pan from the heat and start assembling the sandwiches.
It goes like this: bread, dressing, 1/4-1/2C of sauerkraut(depending on your preferences), a piece of tempeh, a slice of Swiss cheese, and another slice of bread with Russian dressing. Butter the outsides and grill in a frying pan over medium heat until it is golden brown and delicious on both sides.
Slice in half and serve with your preferred sides-I like coleslaw and sweet potato fries. You’ll want extra dressing on the side to dunk the sandwiches in. Yum!
Makes 4 sandwiches. Serves 4(or 2, if you’re really hungry!)
Trifles are one of the best things to do with syllabub. Well, trifles are one of the best things to do with anything! They’re a great way to use up leftovers.
I love cranberries-tart and delicious! I freeze them in their bags when they go on sale in fall so I can use them year round. However, if you don’t want to use cranberries, or cannot get them you can substitute any juicy fruit you wish-blueberries, strawberries, oranges, ripe peaches, and so on. Just hold back on the sugar, you don’t want the fruit to be very sweet, it’s going to provide the pop in the finished dish. I’d start with as little as two tablespoons and work your way up from there by taste.
Trifles are infinitely variable. Once you have the hang of the basic formula you can do all kinds of delicious things with whatever you happen to have on hand. It is, I suppose, much like the casserole of the dessert world.
1 batch syllabub
1 12oz bag cranberries
2/3-1 C juice, any variety(I used raspberry apple)
1/3 C sugar(or more, to taste. You’ll want the berry sauce less sweet than you would want it if you were going to eat it by itself-the syllabub and crumbs will add sweetness to the fruit)
First, get your ingredients assembled. You’re going to want to move quickly once you have the cranberry sauce done, so make sure everything is ready to go. You’ll also want a large dish, or several smaller ones, to layer the trifle in. I used a large pyrex bowl.
Once you have everything, make your cranberry sauce. Put your cranberries, 2/3 C juice and sugar in a pot together and simmer them until the berries burst and the sugar is dissolved. You may need to add some more juice if the sauce isn’t loose and pourable.
Now you need to work quickly to get the trifle assembled before the pectin in the cranberries sets up. Layer your ingredients like this: 1/4 of the syllabub, 1/3 of the crumbs, 1/3 of the cranberries, ending with a layer of syllabub. Let the finished trifle rest for a few hours(a day is even better) before serving, to allow it to set and the flavors to meld.
Serves 8-12, but will keep well in the fridge
His heart, which (to use your favourite comparison) was as delicate as sweet and as tender as a Whipt-syllabub, could not resist her attractions…
Lesley Castle, Jane Austen, 1792
Yes, I am a Jane Austen fan — I’m not ashamed to admit it. And given my interest in historical food, it’s no surprise my copy of ”The Jane Austen Cookbook” by Maggie Black and Deirdre LeFaye is dog-eared and stained. One of the most interesting historical recipes in it (to me!) is for Whipped Syllabub — a sweetened, white wine spiked whipped cream commonly served at balls and other upper class gatherings.
While delicious in its traditional form, I have been wondering what it would be like with brandy and sherry instead of the traditional white wine. I took the experiment further by using a whipped cream substitute that piqued my interest at the grocery store – its called MimiCreme Healthy Top, a paste of almonds and cashews that you whip like heavy cream. No advertisements, here. It just looked like something interesting to try. It worked out very well, but swallowed the flavor of the alcohol, and I ended up adding more than usual.
Syllabub is perhaps a little rich for modern palates(even back then, port glass size servings were usual), but I’ll be posting a recipe for the trifle I made with syllabub as the cream layer later this week.
1 pint of heavy whipping cream with 1/4C sugar OR 1 package of MimiCreme Healthy Top
juice of 1 lemon and 2tsp of the zest
2-4tbsp brandy(more for the MimiCreme, less for the heavy cream)
2-4tbsp sherry(again, more for the MimiCreme, less for the real stuff)
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and zest with the sherry and brandy, and set aside. Whip the sugar and cream or the Healthy Top(it’s presweetened) with a mixer or, if you have the fortitude, a wire whisk, until soft peaks form. Fold in the lemon/brandy/sherry mixture, and you’re done!
For the record, the MimiCreme was delicious. I’d absolutely use it again. It holds up to storage better than whipped cream, and tastes not at all fake. It has a slightly different texture, though. I don’t think it would ever get to a really stiff whip. At first I was worried about over-whipping the artificial cream, so I used an electric hand mixer instead of my trusty Kitchen-Aid. No problem there, I thought it would be fragile, but it turns out to be sturdier than regular cream!
Here in America, we usually think of colcannon as made with cabbage, but in Ireland it was made with the three easiest things to grow-potatoes, kale, and onions, incidentally providing almost all of the essential nutrients in one cheap and easy meal. Once the Irish immigrants came to the US, they adapted to the more readily available cabbage. While cabbage has a great many delicious uses, I’m not sure mixing it with potatoes was ever one of them: it’s too bland and white. As for kale, well, ruffly kale is certainly better to mix with potatoes, but it’s still not a fantastic meal option. Enter Brussels sprouts. I’ve never been a fan of leafy greens-I can’t get past the texture, but Brussels sprouts lack the slimy texture of most cooked greens, and their strong flavor makes them the perfect foil for the creamy potatoes and mild leeks.
You can leave the peels on your potatoes if you wish, but i prefer my mashed potatoes without skins.
1lb potatoes, peeled or scrubbed and sliced
1/2 cup of milk
4 tbsp(1/2 stick) of butter, divided use
1/2 lb leeks, white and light green parts sliced and rinsed of grit
1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, sliced into ribbons
salt and pepper, to taste
Put the potatoes in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Heat the milk and 2 tbsp of the butter together. Adding cold dairy to hot potatoes with make the potatoes gluey. Mash the potatoes with the milk and melted butter, and set aside.
In a large skillet, melt the remaining 2tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute for two minutes. Add the brussels sprouts and continue cooking until they are tender. Add the mashed potatoes and mix it all together with salt and pepper to taste.
You can also use leftover mashed potatoes for this-just use half the amount of leeks and brussels sprouts as you have potatoes, and make sure the potatoes are heated through before you take the pan off the stove.
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side