Sautéed Grouper In Shrimp Cream Sauce
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup white wine
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup diced shrimp (about 6 large) (peeled and deveined)
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 teaspoon each of white pepper and salt
5 or 6 leaves of fresh basil, torn into small pieces
2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil for sautéing
1 grouper fillet or other white fish fillets, about 8 oz
Salt and pepper for seasoning
In a saucepan, sauté the diced shallot in 1 tablespoon butter until tender. Add the wine, tomato, salt, and pepper.
Bring to a boil and let the broth simmer until reduced to about half. Add the shrimp and cream. Cook for about one minute or until the shrimp are barely done.
Set aside while you prepare the fish.
Put the butter and oil in a skillet large enough to cook the grouper. Season the fish with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour.
When the butter sizzles, add the fish and cook on each side until cooked through and golden. Pour the shrimp cream sauce over the fish and garnish with basil.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups broccoli florets
Zest and juice of one orange
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
2 tablespoons toasted, slivered almonds
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the broccoli, salt, pepper, orange zest, orange juice and sauté with the olive oil and garlic mixture until the broccoli turns bright green and becomes tender.
Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.
Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but its culinary use is very much like a fruit. Traditional rhubarb has thick, green stalks while hothouse rhubarb has thinner stalks with bright red and pink colors. The brighter the color, the more tart the flavor seems to be. If you’ve ever wondered why rhubarb seems to be paired with strawberries all the time, it’s because the sweetness of the strawberries helps to balance out rhubarb’s tart flavor.
Rhubarb comes into season in April, peaks in April and May, and is available through summer. When choosing rhubarb, look for firm, crisp stalks, and shiny skins. Avoid stalks that are limp with blemishes and split ends. Look for small leaves, which indicate a younger plant, but don’t eat them — the leaves contain oxalic acid, which is toxic.
Remove the leaves from the rhubarb stalks before you store them. Don’t cut the stalks until you are ready to use them, or the rhubarb will dry out. Uncut stalks can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week when sealed in a plastic bag. If you want to cut the stalks in advance, you can freeze them in an airtight bag or container.
Cut the stalks into whatever size pieces you need for a recipe. For desserts, this is usually between 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch. Avoid cooking rhubarb in aluminum, iron, or copper pans because the acidity of the rhubarb will react with these metals, leading to discoloration of your cookware. Instead, choose pans that are made of enameled cast iron, anodized aluminum, non-stick coated aluminum, or glass.
Rhubarb is good in pies, crisps, and cobblers. We also like it mixed with strawberries.
Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
Makes 16 servings
I like baking bar recipes in a 7×11 glass baking dish because bars seem to cook more evenly. You may also use a 9-inch or an 8-inch baking pan and adjust the baking time. This recipe is easy to adapt to special diets.
2 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut sugar, a sugar substitute for baking or regular granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder, cornstarch or 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 cups finely ground almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut sugar, a sugar substitute for baking or regular granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced
Make the filling first by combining the rhubarb, strawberries, water, lemon juice, sugar and ginger in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture boils. Cook until the fruit is very soft. Remove the pot from the heat and sprinkle with the xanthan gum and whisk quickly to combine. Cool the mixture in the refrigerator while you make the crust.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and coat a 7×11 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Make the filling by combining the almond flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is cut into tiny pieces. Press half of the mixture (about 1 ½ cups) onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish and bake 15 minutes, or until the edges turn crispy and golden.
Spread the cooled filling over the baked bottom crust and sprinkle with the remaining almond flour mixture.
Press down lightly with the bottom of a measuring cup.
Bake 45 minutes, or until the topping is crispy and the filling is bubbly. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled before cutting into bars.
Italian Hazelnut Ricotta Cheesecake
Ricotta cheesecake is tops in our family and I have shared several versions with you over the years. This version is especially suited for a holiday or for when you have guests. It makes a beautiful presentation. It can also be adjusted for special diets.
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar or equivalent sugar substitute for baking
3 tablespoons all-purpose or low carb or gluten-free flour
1 tablespoon hazelnut flavored syrup
Strawberry Sauce, recipe below
For the crust:
Heat the oven to 350°F. Line the outside of an 8-inch springform pan with a double layer of aluminum foil. Coat the inside of the springform pan with cooking spray.
Process the hazelnuts until finely ground in a food processor. Combine the hazelnut flour, butter, and cinnamon in the processor until the mixture is crumbly.
Pat the mixture onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, 10-12 minutes; cool on a wire rack.
For the cheesecake:
In the food processor fitted with a metal blade, process ricotta until very smooth. Add cream cheese; process until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, processing until incorporated. Add sugar or sugar substitute, flour, and hazelnut syrup. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour filling into cooled crust; smooth top.
Place the pan in a larger pan and add water to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake finish baking in the turned off oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, remove the foil and cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate. When well chilled, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan, cut into wedges and serve with the Strawberry Sauce.
Quick Strawberry Sauce
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon hazelnut flavored syrup
Combine the ingredients in a microwave-safe dish. Heat in the microwave for one minute. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir well. Cover and refrigerate. Serve a little of the sauce over slices of the ricotta cheesecake.
Polish Easter Nut Bread
My mother-in-law made this bread every year for the holidays. I remember what it tasted like and that it took her several days to make this traditional bread. She also made about 8 loaves to share with the family. The recipe was in her head and never written down. I looked at a number of Polish recipes for Easter Nut Bread but none of them seemed to be like hers. Her version was round, not long like most photos I saw on the internet. So I created a version of this bread that tastes like hers but with a lot less work.
This dough is very tender and delicious, not at all heavy or dense.
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 large egg
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix for a few turns to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the butter cut into cubes and the egg, water, and cream. Mix until combined and the dough begins to stick together. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 7 minutes. It should be smooth and soft.
Put the dough in a large buttered bowl and cover it with a towel. Let it rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, until doubled.
While the dough is rising, prepare the walnut filling:
10 ounces walnuts
4 ounces (1 stick unsalted butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To make the walnut filling:
Put the walnuts in a food processor until finely ground.
By hand or in a mixer, cream the butter and the brown sugar until smooth. Stir in one egg, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Add the ground walnuts and mix until incorporated. Set aside.
To make the pastry:
Place the risen dough on a lightly floured board and roll it into a 20- by 15-inch rectangle.
Spread the walnut filling evenly over the dough. From the long end, roll up the dough, pinching the ends to the sides to seal it. Pull the dough to a length of 25 inches and twist the roll into a circle. Place it on a large parchment-lined baking sheet.
Let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it on the dough. Bake the walnut roll for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is a dark golden brown color and registers 200 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
Let the walnut roll cool for 15 minutes and then slice it yo serve it warm. The pastry can also be reheated in a 350 degree F oven.
So many more options become possible in March. Here, on the Gulf Coast, strawberries are in season and they are beautiful. They taste wonderful in a smoothie. I look forward to this time of year, so I can purchase artichokes because we love them stuffed. Asparagus make delicious salads and so does fennel. And, broccoli rabe is at its best in the spring, so look for it at your market.
Italian Seasoned Fresh Bread Crumbs
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 8 slices of regular, low carb or gluten-free bread), crusts removed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Tear the bread slices into pieces. Process into crumbs and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.
4 large artichokes, trimmed
2 cups Italian seasoned “bread” crumbs (see recipe above)
8 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat of your blade and minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Cut off the stems so the artichokes will stand upright. Slice off the top third of the artichokes and pull off some of the tough outermost leaves.
Trim off the pointed tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears. Wash the artichokes and turn them cut side-down to drain.
Rub the cut parts with a little lemon juice. Use your thumbs to open the leaves the rest to make room for stuffing and set aside.
Heat the oven to 425° F and place a small stock pot or tea kettle with water on the stove to boil.
Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese and red pepper flakes.
Stuff one artichoke at a time by scooping out 1/2 cup of stuffing, placing the artichoke in the bottom of the bowl and sprinkling with the 1/2 cup of stuffing.
Use your fingers to work the stuffing in between the leaves. Be sure to get a bit of the stuffing between each of the outer leaves and in the top.
Transfer the stuffed artichokes to a baking dish just large enough to hold the artichokes upright.. Continue until all artichokes are stuffed and placed in the baking dish.
Drizzle each artichoke with lemon juice and olive oil. Pour boiling water from the kettle or pot to fill the dish about an inch high.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake about 45 minutes. Check for tenderness by sliding a knife easily through the base of the artichokes.
Once tender, uncover and bake for 15 minutes, or until the artichokes turn golden brown.
Place each artichoke in an individual bowl and pour some of the broth in the baking dish over the artichokes before serving.
Spring Asparagus Salad
Variations: add cooked beets or crispy bacon to the salad.
1 bunch fresh, thin asparagus
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon whole-grain or Dijon-style mustard
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 scallions (green onions), sliced thin
Bibb Lettuce cups
Bring a large pot or deep skillet of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt.
Trim and discard the tough woody asparagus ends.
Carefully place the asparagus spears in the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, or just until the vegetable is bright green and tender but not soft.
Drain and place the asparagus in a large dish filled with ice water.Let the asparagus cool in the ice bath for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the asparagus to a kitchen towel to dry. Cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces and then place them on a platter or individual salad plates lined with lettuce.
Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mustard and a pinch of salt in a liquid measuring cup, until well blended, to form a vinaigrette.
Sprinkle the sliced scallions over the asparagus and then sprinkle the chopped egg on top.
Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to coat.
Easy Strawberry Smoothie
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup regular milk or unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Sweetener of choice to taste
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses to serve.
Fennel Walnut Chicken Salad
1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast or 2 halves, cooked and diced
1/2 of a fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon roasted garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
In a large bowl, toss the chicken cubes with the lemon juice, garlic powder, fennel, fennel seeds, black pepper and walnuts until combined.
Add the mayonnaise to the chicken mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Taste the salad and see if you would like to add salt.
Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Broccoli Rabe Parmigiano
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
2 lbs Broccoli Rabe
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz cooked pasta, optional
Cut off about one inch from the bottom of the broccoli rabe stalks. Wash the broccoli very well. Cut into two-inch lengths.
In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes; sauté 30 seconds.
Add broccoli rabe, broth, lemon juice and lemon zest; mix well. Cover skillet and cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until the broccoli rabe is crisp-tender.
Add the salt, black pepper and grated cheese. Mix well and cover the pan. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before serving. This sauce is delicious served over pasta.
Springtime means ham and lamb in the meat department. They are often on sale now in the market or from your local farm. Ham is always a good buy and supplies plenty of leftovers for several meals. Spring also brings us lots of new vegetables and fruits, so I look forward to using them and developing new recipes with them. I am especially taken with my newly discovered rutabagas. They are very similar to potatoes but contain many less carbs. I decided to try making my potato salad recipe with them and it turned out very well and so delicious. Fennel is also in season and there are so many good ways to prepare it, either cooked or raw. Try out some new vegetables this week and see how you like them.
Glazed Spiral-Sliced Ham
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
5 lb Spiral Cut Fully Cooked Ham
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Place the ham cut side down onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Mix together the brown sugar, apricot jam and mustard in a small bowl. Brush half of the glaze onto the ham using a pastry brush.
Reserve the remaining glaze. Enclose the foil around the ham and place on a rimmed baking sheet also covered with foil (for easy cleanup).
Roast for 75 minutes in the preheated oven, or if your ham is a different size, figure 15 minutes per pound.
Take the ham out of the oven, pull the foil away and brush the remaining glaze onto the ham.
Place the ham back in the oven without enclosing it in the foil.
Bake 15-20 minutes more or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 140°F. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Rutabaga “Potato Style” Salad
1 ½ lbs rutabaga or red potatoes, peeled
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1/4 cup minced bread and butter pickles
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion or scallions
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cut the rutabaga or potato into thin slices, about 1 x 1 inch, or cut the vegetables into cubes if you prefer that cut.
Place the rutabaga in a large pot with a lid. Cover with cold water and add 1 teaspoon salt.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook with the lid ajar about 15-20 minutes until the rutabaga is fork tender.
Drain and place the rutabaga in a medium serving bowl. Add the pickle juice and let sit at room temperature for an hour or so.
Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and taste to see if the salad needs salt.
Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
Sprinkle the top with some chopped parsley and a little paprika, if you would like to garnish the salad before serving it.
Fennel Salad With Avocado Dressing
2 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 of a large fennel bulb, cut into one inch cubes
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Avocado Dressing, see link
Combine the tomatoes, fennel, onion and pine nuts in a medium serving bowl. Add a few tablespoons of dressing to the top of the salad.
Serve with the remaining Avocado dressing on the side.
Inviting friends for lunch is a relaxing and easy way to entertain. The menu can be a few simple combinations that can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before your guests arrive. This will give you plenty of time to spend with your guests. No fancy desserts needed. I usually just serve fruit.
Creamy Mushroom Soup
As made below, the soup will be a great menu choice for your friends who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. Walnuts and dried mushrooms are used to thicken this soup without flour. However, if you would like it to be even creamier and non-vegan, add 1 cup of heavy cream.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz dried morel mushrooms
4 oz dried chanterelle mushrooms
4 oz sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1 onion, diced
2 shallots, minced
½ cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup dry sherry
8 cups vegetable broth
1½ cups chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives
In a medium Dutch Oven or large saucepan, place the dried mushrooms and cover with 5 cups of water. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mushroom rest in the water for 30 minutes. Drain. Rinse out the pan.
Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallots, celery, garlic, thyme and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the soaked dried mushroom and sherry; increase heat to high and simmer, stirring often, until the sherry has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the broth, pepper and walnuts. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.Remove the pot from the stove. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender or in a regular blender (in batches, if necessary) until very smooth. Return the pot to the heat. Add the fresh cremini mushroom and simmer the soup for 20 minutes more. Serve the soup topped with chives.
Creamy Avocado Dressing
If you would like a thinner dressing, add up to a 1/2 cup of water.
3 ripe medium avocados, peel and pit removed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
2 tablespoons honey or sweetener of choice
Place all the dressing ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor.
Process until completely smooth.
Use as a dressing over salad or serve as a dip. Great on tomatoes.
Any of the following ingredients can be arranged in an attractive way on individual salad plates.
All these ingredients are delicious with the Avocado Dressing.
Soft greens/lettuces to line the plates
Sliced Pears, dipped in lemon juice
Sliced cooked beets
Sliced cooked hard-boiled eggs
Celery sliced on the diagonal
Red onion, sliced thin
Thin strips of baked ham or turkey
Thinly sliced plum tomatoes
Radishes, sliced thin
Toasted pistachio nuts or any toasted nuts