This is the right time of year to buy asparagus. They are in season and the price is low. Of course, you will get tired of them, if you cook asparagus the same way each time you serve them. Have you tried asparagus in a quiche or an omelet? Delicious – give it a try. Double the ingredients and make a second quiche for the freezer.
1 refrigerated pie crust for a 9 inch pie, at room temperature
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
3 slices bacon
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup half & half cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
Heat the oven to 450°F.
Line a baking pan with heavy-duty foil. Spread asparagus on the baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the bacon strips on one end of the pan.
Roast until the asparagus are tender, about 12 minutes. Cool and cut into one inch pieces. Drain the bacon on a paper towel and crumble.
Lower oven temperature to 350°F.
Place pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan. Place the pie pan on a clean baking sheet.
Arrange the roasted asparagus, crumbled bacon and shallots over the bottom of the crust.
In a mixing bowl, combine the chives, Dijon mustard, eggs, half & half, a large pinch salt and a large pinch black pepper. Whisk together until well combined.
Pour over asparagus.Top with the cheese.
Bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Cabbage is beautiful this time of year – mild and tender – so take advantage of one of the season’s best vegetables. Colcannon is popular because it combines the cabbage with potatoes for a delicious side dish.
4 large baking potatoes, cooked, peeled and cut into small cubes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
2 garlic cloves, minced
Half a large head of green cabbage, thinly shredded
1 1/2 cups half & half
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely diced fresh chives
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a deep skillet with a cover over medium heat.
Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, 8–10 minutes.
Add the shredded cabbage and cook, stirring often until the cabbage is soft and tender.
Add half & half and bring to a simmer.
Add potatoes and remaining butter and cook until the potatoes are hot and most of the half & half is absorbed.
Coarsely mash with a potato masher and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the colcannon to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with chives.
This recipe can be prepared ahead and reheated in a moderate oven or in the microwave just before serving.
Grilled Chicken Over Greek Salad
This is one of my favorite dishes. So many delicious ingredients – all in one bowl. This salad works in any season and the chicken doesn’t have to be grilled. It can be sautéed or baked in the oven,
For the chicken marinade
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 ½ tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
Large pinch sea salt
Dash black pepper
2 small or one large boneless chicken breast
For the salad
One heart of romaine lettuce, washed and shredded
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1 1⁄2″ pieces
Half a cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced crosswise into 1⁄4″ pieces
1⁄2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
½ bell pepper, sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon. red wine vinegar
1⁄8 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 oz. feta, crumbled
8 kalamata olives
4 Tuscan (pepperoncini) peppers
To prepare the chicken
In a glass measuring cup, mix the first seven ingredients together.
Place the chicken breasts in a storage dish with a cover and pour the marinade over the meat. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
Prepare an outdoor grill or heat an indoor grill.
Place the meat on the hot grill and turn the chicken about every 4 minutes until the chicken registers 165 degrees internal meat temperature. Set on a plate to cool while you prepare the salad.
To prepare the salad
Slice the chicken into thin pieces. Combine the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and onions in a salad bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar and oregano; season with salt and pepper and pour over the salad mixture. Toss and top with feta, olives, pepperoncini and sliced chicken.
Serve with warm pita bread.
Open-Face Reuben – My Way
This sandwich can be made with any leftover meat. I just happened to have corned beef from St. Patrick’s Day on hand. I have use sliced turkey, chicken and steak in the past for this sandwich and they all turned out well. I usually bake oven fries with this dish which take about 20 minutes. Put the sandwich in the oven after the potatoes have baked for ten minutes.
2 large slices rye bread; see link for my homemade rye bread recipe
10 slices cooked corned beef
4 slices swiss cheese
½ cup sauerkraut, drained
4 tablespoons mustard sauce, recipe below
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Toast the bread and place it on a foil lined baking pan. Spread 2 tablespoons of the mustard sauce on each piece of toasted bread. Arrange the meat slices on top.
Place 1/4 cup sauerkraut on top of each sandwich and top with two slices of cheese. Place the sandwiches in the oven for 10 minutes so the meat can heat and the cheese melt.
Serve with some great pickles.
For the Guinness Mustard Sauce:
1/4 cup stone ground mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
½ teaspoon horseradish powder (ground)
4 tablespoons Guinness beer
In medium bowl combine mustard, mayonnaise, horseradish and sour cream together. Slowly whisk in beer. Chill in the refrigerator.
A survey of my freezer containers, indicated leftover pork and turkey breast were getting old. Time to use them up. I also had 2 cooked baking potatoes in the refrigerator. Since I hate just heating up leftovers, I had to get creative. Sandwiches are always a good meal and so is pasta. I had plenty of dried pasta shells in the pantry, so I decided to come up with a filling for them using the leftover turkey breast meat. Potatoes and eggs – one of my favorites. So here is what I came up with for a few brand new meals.
For leftover pork.
Leftover pork from a roast or scaloppini dish makes an excellent sandwich.
See original recipes for pork
Ingredients for each sandwich:
2 teaspoons prepared basil pesto
2 slices sourdough or ciabatta bread or rolls
2 slices provolone cheese
2 thin slices leftover cooked pork
½ jarred roasted red pepper, drained and sliced
2 large basil leaves
2 teaspoons butter
Prepare the sandwiches:
Brush one side of each slice of bread with pesto. Place the pork slices on top of the pesto covered side of the bread. Add the roasted red pepper, basil leaves and cheese.
Place the second piece of bread, pesto side down, on top if the cheese. Press the sandwich together. Spread the butter on the outside of the bread slices.
How to cook the sandwiches:
In a Panini Press:
Preheat the press. Place the sandwich in the press and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until golden and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
On the stove:
Preheat a skillet to medium low. Add the sandwich and press a heavy pan on top to weigh it down. Cook until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Turkey or Chicken Stuffed Pasta Shells
32 large dried pasta shells
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons instant flour or all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups finely diced, cooked chicken or turkey
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 clove garlic, grated
½ cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
In a large saucepan combine the milk with the instant flour, butter and salt, Put the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring often.
Once the mixture boils, stir constantly until slightly thickened. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the shells. Cook them for a few minutes less than the package directions say. They should be pliable but not soft.
Drain and place the shells on kitchen towels on the counter.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large baking dish that can accommodate the 32 shells or use two smaller dishes.
To make the filling:
Combine all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and add i cup of the white sauce. Stir well.
To assemble the dish:
Pour half of the remaining white sauce into the prepared baking dish.
Fill the shells with the turkey mixture, about 1 tablespoon for each. If you have any filling left over, you can add to the shells in the dish later.
You want to be sure you have filling for all the shells distributed evenly.
As you fill the shells, place them in the baking dish. When all the shells are in the dish, pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle lightly with paprika.
Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake the shells for 45 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Potato, Onion and Rosemary Frittata
This recipe is a good way to use leftover cooked potatoes. This frittata makes a delicious, quick dinner and all you need is a green salad to complete the meal.
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
2 baking potatoes, cooked and sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the broiler. While you prepare the fritatta.
In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs. Add the cheese and mix.
In an oven-proof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add potatoes and rosemary and sauté until the potatoes are golden.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the vegetables from the pan to a plate and set aside.
Add the butter to the skillet clean and melt over medium heat.
Add the beaten egg mixture and cook for a minute. Spread the sautéed vegetables on top of the eggs,.Let cook for 7-8 minutes or until the edges are set and the top is still slightly wet.
Place the frittata under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the top is set and golden.
Remove the skillet from the oven and let rest 5 minutes. Turn the frittata out onto a platter or serving dish and cut into wedges.
Cosenza is a province in the Calabria region of Italy. The province, one of the very few in Italy with coastlines along two different seas, includes the beautiful Sila mountains with their 3 lakes, Cecita-Mucone, Arvo and Ampollino and the Pollino National Park, founded in 1993.
Cosenza’s roots go back to early man. The province was conquered by the Normans, Saracens, Byzantines and the Spanish. The rich history is reflected in their architecture and their culture. Roman ruins, ancient castles, Norman towers and festivals, like the Montalto Uffugo’s Saracen Festival, mesh the past with the present.
An ancient legend exists in the province dating back to 410 AD about King Alaric, King of the conquering Visigoths. The legend states that once the King conquered Rome, he headed south, conquering and collecting treasures. Once he reached where the Crati river and the Bucenta river met, he died suddenly. These rivers meet in the heart of Cosenza. It is said that his soldiers, along with the help of slaves, buried the King under the river, along with his horse and the treasures, by redirecting the river long enough to build the tomb. His troops then killed all the slaves so no one would know where the treasure was buried.
In the centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, several towns in the Cosenza province refused to acknowledge the new government of the Visigoths. Instead, they built strong city walls and small garrisons to hold out for centuries as semi-independent enclaves until the invasion of the Germanic Lombards in the 560s. In 1500, in spite of resistance, Cosenza was occupied by the Spanish army. In 1707 the Austrians succeeded the Spanish in the Kingdom of Naples, followed by occupation by the Bourbons. From 1806 to 1815, Cosenza fought hard against French domination. In 1860, Calabria became part of the new Kingdom of Italy.
The province contains the Cosentian Academy, the second academy of philosophical and literary studies to be founded in the Kingdom of Naples (1511) and one of the oldest in Europe. To this day, the area remains a cultural hub with several museums, theaters, libraries and the University of Calabria.
The cuisine has been greatly influenced by past conquerors. The Arabs brought oranges, lemons, raisins, artichokes and eggplant and the Cistercian monks introduced new agricultural practices and dairy products.
Tomatoes are sun-dried, octopi are pickled, anchovies salted and peppers and eggplant are packed into jars of oil and vinegar.
The chili pepper is popular here and is crushed in oil and placed on the table with every meal to sprinkle over your food. The chili was once considered to be a cure for malaria which probably accounts for its extensive use in this region.
The cuisine is a balance between meat-based dishes (pork, lamb, goat), vegetables (especially eggplant) and fish. Pasta (as in Central Italy and the rest of Southern Italy) is also very important.
Some specialties include Caciocavallo Cheese, Cipolla rossa di Tropea (red onion), Frìttuli and Curcùci (fried pork), Liquorice, Lagane e Cicciari (a pasta dish with chickpeas), Pecorino Crotonese (Sheep’s milk cheese) and Pignolata (a soft pastry covered in chocolate and lemon flavored icing).
Recipes To Make From Cosenza
Serve with Calabrian Bread
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into slices
1/8 cup of salt
2 roasted oil-packed Calabrian chilies, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano, minced or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons of white vinegar
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Salt the cut eggplant and let it set for 1 hour.
Rinse the eggplant thoroughly under cold water.
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the eggplant for 4 to 5 minutes until tender.
Lay the slices out on a towel to dry.
In a medium size bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, chili peppers, garlic, oregano and pepper.
Place one layer of the eggplant on a plate and drizzle some of the oil mixture on top.
Place another layer on top and repeat until all the eggplant is used up.
Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hour and serve chilled.
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast with a quarter cup of the lukewarm water. Pour into a large bowl.
Mix in the flour, sugar, salt, and remaining lukewarm water and mix in until a dough starts to form. If too sticky, add a bit more flour.
Turn out onto a flat surface and knead for 6-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a thick towel, and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, divide in half and shape into 2 oblong loaves about a foot long each. The bread can also be shaped into a ring.
Put the loaves on cookie sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise again for 40 minutes. Loaves will double in width.
In a small dish, beat the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water. Make 3 slits in the top of the risen bread, a quarter of an inch deep. Brush with the egg wash and put the cookie sheets in the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F Then lower the heat to 400 degrees F and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until golden and baked through.
Lagane E Cicciari
Lagane is a flat, wide, fettuccine-like fresh pasta
2 cups all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
1/2 cup of water
Add the salt to the flour and mix well.
Slowly add the water and knead the dough for about 10 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
Roll the dough on a floured surface, using a rolling-pin to form a circle about 1/4 inch thick.
Continue to roll and thin the pasta. (Cutting the circle in half will make it easier to handle.)
Roll the dough to form a long log
With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 1/4 inch strips.
Unroll the strips and lay them on a clean, flat surface.
Cook as directed below.
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
One 15 ounce can chickpeas, undrained
One 14 oz can chopped Italian tomatoes, undrained
8 ounces lagane (recipe above) or broken lasagna noodles
In a small saucepan, combine the garlic, oil, red pepper flakes and rosemary.
Over low heat, cook the garlic until it begins to brown.
Add the chickpeas with all of their liquid and the tomatoes.
Simmer gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Boil the pasta in at least 3 quarts of water with 1 heaping tablespoon of salt for 2-3 minutes if fresh pasta or longer for dried.
Just before the pasta is done, remove about half the chickpeas to a bowl and mash them with a potato masher or with an immersion blender. Return the mashed chickpeas to the sauce
When the pasta is done. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta.
Combine the pasta with the chickpea sauce in a large serving bowl. Toss well. Add a little of the reserved pasta cooking water if the pasta is too dry. (It should not be soupy, however.)
Serve very hot with either olio santo (hot pepper oil) or extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle over the top.
Galletto alla Diavola (Devil’s Chicken)
1 whole chicken, cut up
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon mustard
1 carrot, minced
1 red onion, minced
1 3/4 oz uncooked ham (capocollo), finely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup dry Marsala wine
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix the eggs with the salt and pepper and mustard.
Dip each chicken piece into the egg mixture, then coat with breadcrumbs.
Grease a baking dish with a little olive oil and then add the chicken pieces.
Pour a little bit of olive oil over the chicken pieces and bake for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thickest piece reaches 165 degrees.
In a skillet cook the carrot in oil with the onion and ham.
Season with salt and pepper, then add the white wine and Marsala.
Reduce the heat and let simmer until thickened.
Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, then pour the sauce over and serve.
When the children come for a visit, they are not interested in experimental dishes. So, I don’t make recipes that I am testing, when they are here. Tried and true – old favorites – is what they look for. I have shared some of their favorites in the past and here are a few more. Hope you like them, also.
Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
Serve this dish with a green vegetable or salad.
4 chicken breast halves, bone-in and skin removed
1 slice sandwich bread
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound medium baking potatoes, cut into ¼ inch rounds
One lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a roasting pan or baking dish, combine the sliced potatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread mixture evenly over the bottom of the baking pan. Set aside.
Place the slice of bread in the food processor and process until bread into crumbs.
In small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, garlic powder and tarragon.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brush the mayonnaise mixture on top of the chicken breasts and spread evenly to coat.
Sprinkle each breast with 1/4 of the bread crumbs, pressing them to adhere to the chicken.
Place the chicken on top of the potatoes in the baking pan. Place the pan in oven and roast for about 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F.
Oven Fried Fish with Tartar Sauce
I have found that heating the baking pan in the oven before placing the fish on it, will make the fish extra crispy.
Serve this dish with broccoli or spinach and macaroni and cheese.
For every 2 servings, you will need:
1 lb white fish fillets
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 drops hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon white ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil for the baking pan
Tartar Sauce, recipe below
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Spread the olive oil in a baking pan and place the pan in the oven when you turn it on.
Dry the fillets with paper towels. Combine the lemon juice, buttermilk, hot pepper sauce and garlic in a shallow dish.
Combine the white pepper, salt and onion powder with panko crumbs and place in a second shallow dish.
Let fillets sit in the buttermilk mixture for a few minutes. Then coat the fillets on both sides with seasoned crumbs, pressing the crumbs onto the fish.
Place the coated fish on a plate and refrigerate for several hours.
When ready to cook, place the fillets on the hot baking sheet and bake 12 minutes on the middle oven rack. Using a wide spatula, turn the fillets over after 6 minutes. Serve with tartar sauce, if you like it.
Homemade Tartar Sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced capers
Few drops of hot sauce
½ teaspoon agave syrup
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small serving bowl. Refrigerate until serving time.
Italian Sausage, Tomato and Ricotta Pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb hot Italian sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
Half a medium onion, finely diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups fresh (or canned) seeded, diced, plum tomatoes or roasted red peppers
4 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. rigatoni pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper
Brown the entire sausage on the grill or in a skillet. Set aside until cool enough to handle. When cool enough to touch, slice the sausages into ¼ inch slices.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
In a large skillet heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook about 3 or 4 minutes to soften the onion. Add the wine and cook over medium high for a few minutes.
Lower the heat and add the sausage, tomatoes, basil, the red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, 6 to 10 minutes.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water, stirring frequently until al dente, about 11 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain well.
Return the pasta to the pot, add the sausage/tomato sauce, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 1 minute so the sauce and pasta combine.
Add some of the reserved pasta water to moisten.
Combine the ricotta with the parsley, ¼ cup of the Pecorino cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
Turn the pasta and sauce into a large serving bowl. Drop tablespoons of ricotta on top of the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining Pecorino cheese.
Italian Sourdough Bread
Some Italian dinners need bread to finish off the meal. This bread is one of the family’s favorite.
3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 cup sourdough starter
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons instant yeast
Combine all the ingredients in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until the dough leaves the side of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 minutes.
Let the dough rest in the bowl for 5 minutes. Then, knead again for 5 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes.
Place the dough on a floured board and divide in half (about one pound each).
Shape each piece into an 18-inch long loaf and place the loaves, at least 4 inches apart, on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in a lightly greased baguette pan.
Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap and let them rise for 1 hour, or until they’re puffy and twice the size. Cut slits across top.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray the loaves with water and bake them for about 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Remove the loaves from the oven and cool them on a wire rack.
The Wall Street Journal recently featured an article on how we waste food in America. They noted that the average four-person family spends about $2,000 a year on food that ultimately ends up in the garbage. Throwing away leftovers or unused produce that goes bad in the refrigerator is very wasteful. Being frugal and using what you have is smart and will certainly save you lots of money.
Keeping to my theme from last week of planning meals so food is not wasted, I wanted to share with you how I came about making this dinner for us. I don’t always recycle leftovers into new dishes as I have written about in earlier posts, but I do sometimes think about what will go well with the leftovers that I have on hand or how I can use produce that is still in my refrigerator.
A few weeks ago my market had a special on white/red/purple baby potatoes – buy one 3 lb. bag and get one free. I always try to take advantage of these deals, if I like the produce or product.
I had some of the baby potatoes left after making the Lemon Basil Roasted Chicken (https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2017/01/11/what-is-in-season-in-january/) and the Easy Skillet Potato recipe: (https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2017/02/01/what-is-in-season-in-february/) that I wrote about in earlier posts.
Last week, I made Carrots Agrodolce and we had about half of the recipe leftover. (See link: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2017/02/01/what-is-in-season-in-february/).
The next step was to plan what would go well with the potatoes and the carrot dish.
I shop at a Publix market and every week they email me their circular. I use it to plan my shopping list and meals for the week. I saw a great buy this week on organic chicken – buy one package and get another free. Don’t see that too often. So chicken was on the menu and I decided it should be buttermilk oven fried chicken – one of my favorites.
Potatoes keep awhile but not forever. I separated the baby purple potatoes from the others because I thought they would make an attractive salad to go with the chicken.
Purple Potato Salad
1 1/2 pounds small (baby) purple potatoes
3 scallions, sliced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until fork tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes.
In a mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise and mustard. Add the scallions, celery and remaining ingredients and mix well.
Drain the potatoes. Rinse in cold water and cut into thin slices.
Place the warm potatoes in the bowl with the dressing and toss well. Chill until serving time.
Oven Fried Buttermilk Chicken
5-6 pieces skinless chicken, bone-in or boneless
1 cup buttermilk
2 dashes hot sauce
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups Panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten or ½ cup refrigerated egg substitute
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Paprika for sprinkling on the breaded chicken
Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce in a zip lock bag. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper. Dry the chicken pieces with paper towels and add to the bag. Marinate for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Turn the bag occasionally to evenly distribute the buttermilk.
In a shallow bowl, blend the flour with the seasonings. Place the eggs in a second shallow bowl and the Panko crumbs in a third shallow bowl.
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and drain.
Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mix to coat all sides, shaking off any excess flour. Next, dip each piece in the eggs. Then in the bowl of Panko crumbs, gently press the crumbs into the chicken to coat evenly.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place each chicken piece on a greased rack set on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops of the breaded chicken pieces with paprika.
Bake boneless chicken for 30 minutes and bone-in chicken for 45 minutes or until the chicken is crispy and a meat thermometer registers 165°.
I live in a climate that is hot about nine months out of the year, so winter time, especially January, is a great time of the year to bake. I can get some extra baking in and save the baked goods in the freezer for when it gets hotter. The recipe for one of our favorite breakfast scones is below.
Soup is another favorite and while tomatoes are not in season, Roma Tomatoes are plentiful and are great for cooking. Salads are hearty at this time of year and chicken salad is a great option. Stuffed vegetables or stuffed meat entrees are very comforting when there is a chill in the air. Try some of the recipes below to warm you up.
Makes 8 scones
2 cups self-rising flour (or 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon salt)
2 tablespoons sugar
One 7 oz tube almond paste
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup half-and-half (cream and milk)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
½ cup slivered almonds
Sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar. With a pastry cutter, cut the almond paste and the butter into the dry ingredients until a few pea-sized lumps remain. Stir in the almonds.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, egg and almond extract and add to the flour mixture. With a fork gradually stir the dough until the mixture comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and very gently pat into an 8-inch round about 1 1/2 inches high. Sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar.
Using a chef’s knife or bench scraper, cut the dough round into 8 wedges. Transfer the wedges to the prepared baking sheet, spacing the scones at least 1 inch apart.
Bake in the top third of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool.
Roasted Red Pepper and Egg Wrap
1 large, jarred roasted red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese
2 medium tortilla wraps
Cut the pepper into one inch pieces.
In a measuring cup beat the eggs with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and the Italian seasoning. Add the peppers and mix.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet. Stir and cook until the eggs are set.
Warm the tortillas in the microwave. Divide the cheese in half and sprinkle over each tortilla. Divide the egg mixture in half and place on top of the cheese. Let stand for a few minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
Roll up each tortilla tightly, cut in half and serve.
Winter Tomato Soup
If you don’t like peeling tomatoes as much as I do, here is a technique I use to get around it. I usually purchase fresh Roma tomatoes for cooking and put them in the freezer when I get home from shopping. One day before I am going to cook with them, I place the amount I need in the refrigerator to defrost. The next day, the skins slip right off and are ready for the pot.
6 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
Two 26 oz containers finely chopped Italian tomatoes (Pomi)
1 teaspoon honey
4 cups organic broth (chicken or vegetable)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional: add ½ cup half & half to make a creamy version
Basil for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onions, cover and cook until they are soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the the fresh and canned tomatoes, honey, salt and pepper to taste and the broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes with the cover ajar. Remove the pot from the heat.
With an immersion blender or in a processor, puree the soup. If adding cream, add it here and warm the soup. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve hot garnished with basil.
Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Slow-poaching the chicken breasts keeps them extra moist.
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 scallions, minced
2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
¼ of a green bell pepper finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
6 slices whole wheat or rye bread, lightly toasted
In a large saucepan, cover the chicken breasts with water. Bring to a very slow simmer and cook over low heat until white throughout, about 18-20 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a plate and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Cut the chicken into 1/2-inch dice.
In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Fold in the onion, celery, bell pepper, parsley and chicken until evenly coated.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
Spread some of the chicken salad onto the toasted bread slices and top with tomato slices to serve.
This is a hearty entree and only needs one vegetable as a side. flounder comes in large sizes here on the gulf and mine weighed 14 oz. Substitute an equal amount of smaller fillets.
1 tablespoon each of minced onion, celery and bell pepper
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon seafood seasoning (Old Bay)
1/2 pound lump crab meat
12-14 oz flounder fillet or fillets
Chopped fresh parsley
In a small bowl, combine all the filling ingredients, except the crab. Then, gently fold in the crab. Place the flounder in a baking dish coated with olive oil.
Spoon the crab mixture evenly over the fillet or fillets. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.
Bake at 400°F for 20-24 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
Southwest Stuffed Peppers
January is a good time to try different ethnic cuisines. They can spice up some typical winter produce. While I find an occasional taco or quesadilla tasty, I am generally not a fan of Southwest recipes. This recipe turned out quite well, though, and is a nice change from regular stuffed peppers. It is also good served with a green salad with ranch dressing.
1 large green bell pepper
¼ lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 scallion, chopped
½ cup of corn kernels
¼ cup salsa
½ cup Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds. Place the pepper halves in a small baking dish.
Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and cook the ground beef until brown.
Turn off the heat and add the scallion, corn and salsa; stir to combine. Spoon this mixture into the pepper shells. Add water to cover the bottom of the dish.
Bake for 45 minutes, until the peppers are fork tender. Drain the water from the baking dish. Sprinkle the peppers evenly with the shredded cheese. Return the baking pan to the oven and bake just until the cheese melts.