Archive for the ‘recipe’ Category

At Market: Apple Fennel Salad

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

These early days of September are full of mixed messages at the farmers market. Summer peaches can still be found, but are quickly edged out by the teeming bins of apples. Cherry tomatoes and okra share table space with the first acorn and butternut squash. Rosh Hashanah is quickly approaching (September 16) — the Jewish holiday that is marked by apples dipped in honey to symbolize the wish for a sweet new year — but when the temperatures are still topping 90 it’s hard to even think about baking with apples just yet. And so this apple fennel salad is the perfect cooling dish when summer heat is overstaying its welcome. Serve alongside fish or even hot dogs on the grill. Simplicity is key when coping with the end-of-day exhaustion of freshly back-to-school kids (and their parents).

apple fennel salad

Recipe: Apple Fennel Salad
Makes 2-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 Honey crisp apples
  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

1. Thinly slice the apples and fennel, cutting down to bite-sized 1/2-inch pieces if serving little ones. Place in salad bowl.

2. Whisk together salt, honey, apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

3. Drizzle dressing over apple and fennel and gently toss. Garnish with a little of the leafy fennel fronds, if desired.

september at ballston freshfarm market

These particular apples were purchased at the FRESHFARM Ballston market, held Thursdays from 3 to 7pm just across from the Ballston Metro station. (Wondering why the honey crisps are more green than red this year? Blame the heat, says Mrs. Wheelbarrow in the NY Times Diner’s Journal.) We stopped by to sample the new goats-milk cheeses from Peachy Family Dairy in Pennsylvania (the foodie tot was smitten with their Lady’s Gouda Blessings, an almost candy-like treat), picked up some skirt steak from Gunpowder Bison, and sampled the new Savvy Popsicles). Local favorite Westmoreland Berry Farm is there, and Shells Yes!, a Maryland “true blue” certified crab company who makes a fresh and tasty crab and corn hummus. (And crab cakes, of course.)

What’s your favorite food at the market in September?

Lemon-Mint Crusted Leg of Lamb with Spiced Fig Stuffing {DC Lamb Pro-Am}

Friday, February 10th, 2012

While lamb stew is a Foodie Tots favorite during the cold winter months, roast lamb is one of my favorite celebrations of spring. In my inter-faith household, lamb is one of the rare shared culinary traditions and is frequently served for our Easter supper. Easter has a tendency to fall during Passover, which can pose a menu planning challenge as leavened breads and such are forbidden. Fortunately, some investigation of Sephardic Jewish cooking traditions has led to delicious discoveries – like the spiced dried fruit charoset that I’ve used here as a stuffing for my leg of lamb. (Sephardic Jews typically eat rice and other grains during Passover, though since Israeli couscous is technically a pasta, it’s not exactly kosher. Close enough in our household, but you may want to check before serving to more observant Jewish guests.)

With the spring-like winter we’ve been having this year, I’ve been day-dreaming of planting my herb garden and had mint on the mind, so I added a lemon-mint pesto crust to the lamb. All we need are some daffodils in the garden and we’ll be set for spring.

foodietots roast leg of lamb recipe

I created this recipe as part of the DC Lamb Pro-Am – 13 local bloggers are competing for the best leg of lamb recipe, and a chance to cook our dish with DC chefs at the March 4 event. I’d be honored if you’d take a moment to vote for FoodieTots — thank you!

dc lamb pro-am

Let’s get started. First, take your leg of lamb out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while you prepare the pesto and filling. Start with the pesto — fresh mint, parsley, lemon zest, half a shallot and pistachios are finely chopped, then add butter to form a thick paste.

lemon mint pesto

For the filling, we combine dried figs, apricots, shallot, and a Middle Eastern-inspired spice blend: coriander, cumin and cinnamon. A little red wine is the finishing touch. (I used a Coteaux du Languedoc, Cotes du Rhone or another medium-bodied red wine would be fine.)

spiced fig and apricot charoset

Next, press the stuffing into the lamb. Roll it up, press the pesto on top, and into the oven it goes… Voilà!

preparing a stuffed leg of lamb

Recipe: Lemon-Mint Crusted Leg of Lamb with Spiced Fig Stuffing
Lamb sustainably-raised on Border Springs Farm in Southwest Virginia

Ingredients:

1 (4.5-5.5 pound) boneless leg of lamb
kosher salt
lemon-mint pesto (below)
spiced fig filling (below)

Lemon-Mint Pesto

1/2 shallot
1 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, loosely packed
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons butter, cold

Place all ingredients except butter in food processor and process till finely chopped. Add butter and grind to a thick paste. Remove from processor and set aside.

Spiced Fig Filling

1/2 shallot
6 ounces dried apricots
7 ounces dried figs
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup red wine

Place all ingredients except wine in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Remove to a bowl, pour wine over and toss to combine. Set aside.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Rinse lamb and pat dry. Trim of any excess fat. Unfold leg and make a cut into the thicker side so that lamb can open flat (or, ask your butcher to butterfly the leg for you). Press fruit mixture into lamb in an even layer. Roll back up and place seam side down on rack in roasting pan.

Season lamb with kosher salt. Press pesto mixture over top. Cover loosely with foil and roast for 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 30 minutes (total cooking time 2 hours and 15 minutes, or until meat thermometer reaches 145 degrees for medium rare). Remove and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Note: I had a hard time slicing my lamb without the crust crumbling. I’d suggest slicing it part way, then transferring the remaining leg to the serving platter to display to your guests before slicing the rest. Serve with Israeli couscous, garnished with mint, and roasted carrots.

Egg Drop Soup (Happy Chinese New Year)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

My son has been obsessed lately with preparations for the Chinese (Lunar) New Year. They’ve learned songs and made decorations at school and will be having a family potluck next week. To kick things off at home, we made paper lanterns and egg drop soup yesterday. He’s also asked for “uncut noodles” (symbolizing longevity) and fried dumplings or egg rolls.

Eggs — specifically tea eggs — are served to symbolize wealth and prosperity. Check out last year’s post on PBS Kitchen Explorers for more on the food traditions of Chinese New Year and an egg roll recipe. The Williams-Sonoma blog has a traditional three-course menu if you’re feeling more ambitious.

egg drop soup

Recipe: Egg Drop Soup
Adapted from The Kitchn
Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 or 2 eggs (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • green onions, sliced

Instructions:

Whisk ginger into broth in a small saucepan. Turn to medium high and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium low, maintaining a gentle simmer, and whisk in miso paste until dissolved.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg(s) and corn starch until smooth. Hold a fork across the bowl and slowly pour the egg mixture through the fork tines into the broth, using your other hand to whisk as you pour. Remove from heat and serve immediately, garnished with green onions.

Makes 4 small appetizer servings, or 2 larger bowls.

Note: I used two eggs which made a very thick soup. If you prefer more broth, just use one.

Cooking with Kids Tips: Little ones can help whisk together the egg and corn starch — older ones can whisk as you pour the egg mixture into the broth. It’s fun to watch the egg turn into little ribbons in the soup. And always let kids add their own garnish — my son doesn’t like extraneous green things, my daughter added some cheese. (And loved it!)

~

For those of you in the DC/Northern Virginia area, there are two festivals coming up this weekend, the Chinese New Year Festival in Falls Church and the Lunar New Year festival at Fair Oaks Mall.

Are you doing anything with your kids to celebrate? Yes, getting take-out counts.

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

I once had the fortune to ride out a Florida hurricane at my great aunt’s house. How was this fortuitous, you may ask. Well for starters, I was with my uncle and aunt. Like any good son of an Italian mother, my uncle cooked up a storm as long as the power held out — there was pasta, scallops, and more. And in the backyard of the house, there were avocado trees. The fruits were strewn across the yard after the storm passed (thankfully, there was no serious damage in the neighborhood), and I flew back home several days later with a suitcase partially filled with fresh fallen avocados. If you’ve never had a Florida avocado, they are quite different than the standard Californian/Mexican Haas avocados found at supermarkets. They are several times larger, lighter colored and smooth skinned, and I find they have a fruitier flavor.

Once home with my hurricane souvenirs I set about to recreate a salad I first fell in love with on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico: the grapefruit avocado salad. The salad is simple to throw together, full of bright flavors to add cheer to cold winter days, and the healthy fats in the avocado help make it deceptively filling. Sometimes I just drizzle my grapefruit and avocado slices with straight olive oil, but it doesn’t take much longer to whisk it with lemon juice for the dressing.

Even when I have to make it with California avocados, it still serves to boost my mood during the dreary days of January.

grapefruit avocado salad

Recipe: Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 1 large Florida avocado or 2 Haas avocados
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • sea salt

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil to make dressing. Set aside.
  2. Peel grapefruit and separate sections.
  3. Halve avocado(s) lengthwise and remove pit. Cut into thick slices, still in the skin, and gently scoop the slices out with a spoon.
  4. Arrange grapefruit segments and avocado slices in bowl or serving dish. Drizzle dressing over salad and then season generously with sea salt.

Makes 2-4 servings.

There are a number of ways to build upon this recipe — adding fennel or seafood, for example. Do you have a favorite version?

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies {Kids Cook Monday}

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I know, here we are on the cusp of holiday baking season — the arrival of Gourmet’s annual cookie issue was better than Christmas to many a food blogger — and here I am with plain old chocolate chip cookies. But before the hustle and bustle of the holidays, why not enjoy a simple pleasure. A recipe simple enough to make with the kids, an easy after-school treat for a rainy Monday, or, in my case, a quick way to assuage a mama’s guilt after a weekend away.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies can be a polarizing matter — do you like yours crispy or chewy? I add oatmeal, which makes them healthy (it does, right?) and lends the perfect crisp-chewy texture, in my opinion. Like many recipes, it is based off the back of the chocolate chip package. Aside from the addition of oatmeal, I also double the salt and add almond extract with the vanilla. (I can’t take credit for that either — it’s a tip gleaned from Giada.) I’ve been known to use a mix of raisins or cranberries, or even coconut, with the chocolate chips, but I’ll leave those choices up to you.

Recipe: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Ghiradelli’s baking chip package

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 ounces chocolate baking chips

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and almond extracts, continuing to mix on low speed until well combined. Add flour, baking powder and salt, then gradually add oats until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and drop dough by tablespoon onto pans. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until centers are dry and edges are lightly golden. Remove to cooling rack and try to hold back little hands at least until the cookies are no longer piping hot.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your scoops.