Frosé and Frosecco: Summer’s Coolest Celebs

 

You say frosé, I say "Be right over!"

You say frosé, I say “Be right over!”

It’s been called the summer of Frosé, the “it” drink of summer, even the “God of summer.” Suffice to say, Frosé is a thing. At first I resisted jumping on the Frosé bicyclette. We are, after all, no stranger to the slushy drink rodeo. Plus, I learned the hard way that there is significant recovery involved after an entire summer quenching one’s thirst with things like watermelon sangria. All that said, I also have obligations to the Bring It devoted, so at my cousin D’s urging I took the plunge into trying, tweaking and bringing Frosé. While I was at it, I decided to try the same method with the beverage mascot of brunch, Prosecco, subbing peaches for strawberries to get the Bellini effect.

I’m happy to say the experiment was a grand success and I can bring you not one but two fun, fabulous, delicious summer drinks that can be made and transported in large quantities with little effort. Cue the late summer victory dance here.

The premise is simple: frozen rosé or prosecco, emboldened with fresh fruit-infused syrup then sweetness-balanced with fresh lemon juice. Some versions add more complicated mixers or liqueurs and even fresh herbs. I’m all for experimentation, but there’s not a thing wrong (and a whole lot right) with the basic version.

I started with this one in Bon Appetit, added a splash of vodka to keep it loose, and then slackerized it by eliminating pretty much every step beyond dumping it in the container. This is because summer entertaining at the beach, the lake or even the patio is ideally a “no host” experience. As in no host needed to get yourself a damn drink.

This is very easily scaled up, based on the size of your container. My two vintage yard sale gallon-plus Tupperware beverage containers hold 5 bottles of wine so I used 4 bottles in each to make room for the other ingredients and freezing expansion. When finished they pop right into a cooler, doing double duty as ice packs, and are ready for action at your destination.

Use the leftover fruit in smoothies, over yogurt and ice cream, or stirred with cubed watermelon and fresh mint into a batch of limeade for the world’s easiest aqua fresca. Kids and your wiser, sober friends, will worship you for this.

Here, my pretties, is your date for hot the summer nights ahead:

Frosé and Frosecco

Servings: Makes 4–6

Ingredients:

  • 1 750 ml bottle hearty, bold rosé (such as a Pinot Noir or Merlot rosé) or Prosecco
  • ¼ cup vodka (optional but helps keep it a little looser and sassier)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 8 ounces strawberries, hulled, quartered (or peaches, raspberries, based on flavor and color preference)
  • 2½ ounces fresh lemon juice

Note: Here are at Bring It central, we’re pretty much done after Step 2. There is no blender involved. The cooled syrup goes right into the semi frozen Rosé or Prosecco and into the freezer. Extra points if you stir it and scrape it with a big spoon every few hours while it is freezing.

Preparation

  • Pour rosé into a 13×9″ pan (or, a transportable Tupperware/beverage container of choice) and freeze until almost solid (it won’t completely solidify due to the alcohol), at least 6 hours. Allow longer if working with multiple bottles.
  • Meanwhile, bring sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add strawberries, remove from heat, and let sit 30 minutes to infuse syrup with strawberry flavor. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl (do not press on solids); cover and chill until cold, about 30 minutes. (Reserve still-delicious berries for another use.)
  • Scrape rosé into a blender. Add lemon juice, 3½ ounces strawberry syrup, and 1 cup crushed ice and purée until smooth. Transfer blender jar to freezer and freeze until frosé is thickened (aim for milkshake consistency), 25–35 minutes.
  • Blend again until frosé is slushy. Divide among glasses.

Bringing It:

Transport the entire container in a cooler, using it to cool your other offerings.  At your destination, pull out the container, stir or scrape frosé/frosecco to a uniform consistency and pour into glasses. You might need a spoon at first, but a hot summer day will soon take care of that!

 

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Blueberry Dutch Bunny

Blueberry Durch Bunny

Fresh from the field and hot from the oven.

Sometimes you just get lucky. Friday was my day. I took a flyer and called Super Acres in Lyme to see if they were open for blueberry picking and learned it was opening day. Hallelujah! If you’ve never been to this PYO paradise it’s an Upper Valley rite of summer, and well worth a trip up River Rd.

Blueberry pints

The fruits of your labors

I coerced a friend— Super Acres newbie— to make the trek and he was suitably impressed.  This is not tedious, back-breaking work in a scorching field (I’m looking at you, strawberries). These are grassy rows of high bushes laden with so much ripe fruit that you can pick them like grapes. Somehow you can always seem to find a shady spot. Sheer brilliance! In about a half hour we easily picked four lbs each, without even taking a rest in the Adirondack chairs. Berry picking is about digging deep.

Super Acres provides picking buckets and pint baskets, though the pros bring their own giant Tupperware to make their pies and fill their freezers at home. Despite my aspirations, the allure of fresh berries is too much to resist in our house, and I have yet to freeze a single blueberry.

As for what to make, I had been angling for an excuse to make a blueberry version of Dutch Bunny, inspired by a recipe in Yankee magazine. Dutch Bunny (known outside my household as Dutch Baby, Sunday Pancake and Swedish Pancake) is my go-to weekend breakfast when I’m aiming to win friends. (Lifelong friends have been made over the magical emergence of Dutch Bunny on a vacation morning. True story) It’s hard to imagine a dish that is easier, more impressive or more appreciated by a houseful of guests.  Baking fresh blueberries into the whole shebang takes it over the top.

This is simply my standard Dutch Bunny recipe with fresh blueberries added to the mix. I linked you up but this saves you the trouble of hunting. You need your strength for blueberry picking.

Yield: Serves 4, or one hungry teenager.

 Ingredients

  • 3  Tbsp butter
  • 3  large eggs
  • 3/4  cup  milk
  • 1/2  tsp vanilla
  • 1/2  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  Tbsp sugar
  • 1/8  tsp salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • Powdered sugar and fresh lemon wedge for topping
  • Whipped cream for topping, optional

 Method

  1. Melt butter in a 10-inch ovenproof frying pan over low heat. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl or blender, beat or whirl eggs until light and pale. Beat or blend in milk, vanilla, flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle blueberries on top (they will plop and sink—it’s all good).
  4. Bake in a 425° oven until pancake is puffed and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar and squeeze fresh lemon on top. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Top with more berries, and whipped cream is you’re feeling it.

If you’re in the Upper Valley and want to visit Super Acres, it is located at 722 River Rd, north of Lyme. For more info call the hotline at (603) 353-9807. Unsprayed and awesome blueberries are $3/lb at the self-serve slot. Do the right thing and round up if you’re belly hurts from all the sampling. Oh, and it wouldn’t be a crime to save some room for a little detour to Whippi Dip in Fairlee on your way home.

Thanks to Olivia the great for her awesome pictures!

Super acres-kisk

Weighin’ and payin’ on the honor system.

 

 

 

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ABC Summer Sauce

Green goodness with a kick

Green goodness with a kick

Summer. It gets away from you. As in, we’re halfway through July ?!?! and #$%^&*! Recipe-wise, I don’t have a whole lot to show for summer so far, but I have been doing some background work, like: ongoing watermelon rind experiments, which will save you from some pretty scary concoctions; exploring Vegan frontiers with the mysterious magical Aquafaba; making rhubarb vanilla jam and rhubarb vinegar that I promise to post before the end of strawberry rhubarb season next year; mixing up all kinds of drinks and mocktails (ginger limeade, watermelon aqua fresca), even homemade grenadine, which it turns out is nothing more than pomegranate simple syrup. Who knew? I’ve also been brewing up herbal Sun Tea like it’s my job and adding fresh citrus and mint simple syrup.

This will all be tasty Intel for later summer lovin’. In the near term, I am steeling myself for an exhaustive test of the many frosé recipes (thank you Cousin D) now trying their best to break the Internet. We need a hot weekend, a boatload of rose and some thirsty volunteers. Who’s with me?

Mostly, I’ve been thinking about good people, and how they are the most important ingredient to summer fun. As it happened the US Ski Team announced their 2016/2017 team yesterday, and it includes some really, really fine young people, many of whom I’ve been fortunate to get to know. Sure, they are amazing athletes, but way more importantly they are stellar people who make their ski people proud.

AJ and Ollie

AJ Ginnis, building his fan base.

Pro move: Lila's got the tools of the trade—parchment paper and high tech oven mitts.

Lila Lapanja baking up some Champion Chip Cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In honor of this moment we’re looking to Anna Marno (U.S. Ski Team member, National Super G Champ, healthy eater and cooker, part unicorn) for a summer recipe that is exactly what summer is about. This gorgeous cilantro-packed sauce is fresh, easy, delicious, and versatile enough to liven up most anything you feel like roasting, grilling or dipping.

It was photographed by Rocky Mtn Tania, who’s contributions seriously raise the Bring It! bar.

Says Tania: “This sauce is simply amazing on almost everything: as a side for street tacos, with chicken, fish or pasta even on crackers with cheese.  The ingredients work together so well, but the amounts can and should be adjusted to taste.”

Shall we just call this Anna’s Best Cilantro Sauce? Yes we shall!

Anna-ripping

Anna Marno…ripping!

ABC Summer Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of cilantro
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 5 oz plain greek yogurt *
  • 2-3 Tbsp agave sweetener
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Method:

Put everything but the olive oil in a blender (a Vita Mix if you’re showing off, but a regular blender will do). You have to push the ingredients down to blend.  Slowly drizzle olive oil into blended ingredients while the blender is running to emulsify the sauce.  Make ahead of time so flavors come together.

*The beauty of this recipe is that you can omit the yogurt and you have an incredible vinaigrette for a salad.

Bringing it:
This travels well and is a wonderful hostess gift.

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Watermelon: Summer’s Cheap Sweet Thrill

watermelon-sorbet-glass

Call it sorbet, or granita, or just pure refreshment.

The big blockbuster summer weekend is creeping up on you like a kid with a loaded super soaker. Be ready! When agonizing over what to bring to any summer occasion you just can’t go wrong with watermelon. Whoever had too many of these, especially when they can be eaten at any meal, stored at room temperature and, when really unnecessary for nutrition, greased up and used for water games?

So here’s what you do. Get a watermelon every time you go by the bin at the grocery store and then figure out what to do with them. I suggest saddling up to a big cutting board for some watermelon prep, because one melon can really go a long way and satisfy many cravings. Here are some options:

Instant gratification: Cube it and eat it. If you have a crowd or just a couple of teenage boys it will disappear and everyone will have a dose of fruit and fiber.

Instant gratification, fiesta style: Sprinkle your cubes or wedges with chili powder. It’ll take you right back to that first trip to Tijuana. Or maybe this will spare you that trip to Tijuana.

Gourmet Move 1: Cut it into rounds then quarter rounds and make a shmancy arugula/feta/pepitas (or whatev) salad on top, using the watermelon as a plate. Here’s one from Simply Scratch for inspiration.

Gourmet Move 2: Make this watermelon and goat cheese salad that won the watermelon contest at Food52. If you don’t happen to have a crop of lemon verbena out your window use some lemon zest instead.

Drink Your Dinner: Watermelon Gazpacho involves some chopping, but otherwise this refreshing soup is about as easy as it gets. Plus it travels well and enjoys paper cups. Hello picnic!

Just Drink: Scoop watermelon into your food processor or blender, then strain it for watermelon juice. The juice can be used in things like watermelonade (basically watermelon juice and lemonade) or in the ever wonderful watermelon sangria.

As you can see this is not our first watermelon rodeo. For the 2016 edition though my focus is on the simple straight watermelon, cubed, pureed and frozen into a sorbet. It is known across the internet as “one-ingredient watermelon sorbet.” The thing with one-ingredient miracle recipes is that they are all a little better with, say, two or even three ingredients. This is the case here. Frozen pureed watermelon is pretty dang good, but it’s even better when you stir in some mint simple syrup and a splash of lime juice. A fourth ingredient, should you be inspired, could most certainly involve your liquor cabinet. You be the judge there.

1 ish Ingredient Watermelon Sorbet

Notes: Texturally this is more granita than sorbet. Save yourself the anxiety of expecting it to make pretty scoops, and just serve it in a cup with a spoon.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large seedless watermelon, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mint simple syrup* (optional)
  • Hootch of choice (optional)

Directions:

1. Arrange the watermelon cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and freeze until the watermelon is solid, about 2 hours.

2. Working in batches, transfer the watermelon cubes to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. (My processor fits about half the cubes at a time)

3. Divide the puree among two loaf pans (or put it all in one deep baking dish), packing it down as you add more on top.

watermelon sorbets

Straight up watermelon on left; with lime syrup and mint on right

4. Transfer the pans to the freezer. Freeze until the sorbet is scoopable, 1 to 2 hours more. You can also scrape it with a fork. If it freezes too firm let it sit out for a few minutes.

5. To serve, scoop (or scrape) the sorbet into dishes or cups and eat immediately. Or top with hootch and drink immediately.

*Simple syrup 101:  Combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. For a minted version, add a bunch of chopped or torn fresh mint. Heat to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes or so. Strain into container and chill.

 

Sneak Preview of late summer watermelon edition:

As a half Yankee by blood (thanks Mom) I am cursed with the urge to use every scrap of any ingredient. This leads me to watermelon rind pickles, a thing in the south, and watermelon rind jam. I’ve made one version of the pickles and do like them, though my tastes admittedly tweak towards science experiments—guests be warned. I am just now making the jam, which I suspect will have wider appeal. Either way, this is making something edible out of something that was going straight into the compost pile. If it all ends up in the compost pile, at least you tried.

The many forms of watermelon, including pickled science experiments.

The many forms of watermelon, including pickled science experiments.

 

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A Lasagne For All Seasons

Daffy

Daffodils are way prettier than even the best looking lasagne, AND proof that we’re in the heart of spring.

True—the last post had a picture of daffodils. Also true, the last post and this one have nothing to do with daffodils. But they’re pretty aren’t they?

Today we’re taking a moment to breathe between seasons, to make sure we have one more solid meal before we’re all about veggies and salads, strawberries and spritzers. Because, even though linen and sandals are on the near horizon, we also have end of year sports parties, late night studying, school reunions, graduation visitors, all night studying, prom shenanigans, etc, etc, etc. There is always a need for a go-to lasagne. This one, thanks to Sister B, is now mine.

Like all of the most useful recipes, this is more about a solid method than about exact measurements and complicated ingredients. It comes straight off the package of Trader Joe’s no boil lasagne noodles and uses a mascarpone/parmesan mixture (vs ricotta/mozzarella) to coat the noodles between layers of red sauce and Italian sausage (vs spreading blobs of cheese between layers). This makes it both smoother in the middle and crunchier on the top than traditional lasagnes.

It is awesomely perfect as is, however it is also infinitely tweakable, with or without meat and with any combination of roasted vegetables. I recently made it with layers of roasted cabbage and walnuts, omitting the red sauce, and pouring a little water over it at the end for extra liquid to cook the noodles. Onions and butternut squash would be excellent in an all white sauce version or you could try a Mexican twist with chile-spiced mascarpone, chicken and corn. And of course kale will always try find it’s way into the party.

Once you’ve got the basic method down don’t be afraid to experiment and make it your own. Or just follow the directions and make it again and again. After all, who ever had too many lasagnes at the ready?

Note: I highly recommend using a big rectangular pan (up to 10″ x 15″) and doubling it. Trust me–you’ll go through it. And you won’t be left with half a container of mascarpone cheese. Sister B also swears by using one extra noodle per layer. I just swear too much.

All Season Lasagne a la Trader Joe’s

Lasagne

Yep–not pretty at all. But you know you want that crunchy top layer.

Ingredients:

1/2 package no-boiling lasagne noodles (Any brand would work)
1 lb. uncooked sweet Italian pork sausage (or any sausage you prefer)
1 jar Trader Joe’s Bolognese meat sauce (or your favorite jarred or homemade red sauce)
12 oz. mascarpone cheese (1 1/2 small containers)
1/2 cup 1% milk
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the casing from all the sausage links; place sausage in a large skillet; break up sausage with a fork or spoon while it pan fries until cooked. Add Bolognese sauce to pan; mix, warm through and set aside.

In a separate bowl cream together mascarpone, milk, and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese; mix in nutmeg. Season with pepper to taste. Spread a thin layer of the mascarpone mixture on the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. Dip lasagne noodles into mascarpone mixture one at a time to cover completely; place in a single layer in the baking dish; top with meat sauce and evenly sprinkle on some of the grated Parmesan cheese.

Keep layering in the same order until all of the meat sauce is used (this should make three layers). For the top layer (4th layer): dip the noodles; make the layer; pour remainder of mascarpone mixture over top and sprinkle on the remainder of the Parmesan.

Rest lasagne for about 30 minutes to allow noodles to absorb liquid. Place in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is brown and bubbly. Rest at least 20 minutes before cutting.

Serves six.

 

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Three Ingredient Tomato Sauce—Mother’s Day Salvation

A bright, safe spot well outside of the kitchen

A bright, safe spot well outside of the kitchen

Growing up, the Hallmark Holidays got no play in our household. My parents refused to acknowledge either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, and my Dad was quick to remind us that “every day is Children’s Day” when we pondered the possibility of such a thing. My own household is apparently steadfast in their resolve to uphold this tradition. This is the long way of saying that no, I am not recovering from Mother’s Day festivities. The complete lack of fanfare might have even been upsetting had it not been for some strategic culinary failures that assured I will not be cooking on Mother’s Day next year.

We started the day with Vegan tofu waffles, which were awesome. As soon as I get a picture they’re going up on the blog. I kept the waffles’ key ingredient as a smug secret. Not a soul suspected anything other than maternal good will.

Then came lunch. The waffles had gone over so well that I proceeded with my next experiment, going to considerable effort to collect all the right, freshest, fanciest ingredients. This lunch, Cooking Light assured me, was a “Staff fave” that would satisfy the “heartiest appetites.”

Long story short, the Braised Tempeh Reubens were inedible. Everyone gave them a good faith go, but even one tentative bite was just too much. In justifying my effort, I revealed the truth about the waffles which tipped off my total loss of credibility, and an every-man-for-himself dash to the fridge to pinch hit for lunch. The raid left us with nothing for dinner. Nothing but a sheepish suggestion to go out. On Mother’s Day. With no reservations. Two words: Not Happening. And yet, the cupboards were bare.

Enter, Marcella Hazan’s brilliant tomato sauce made with three ingredients and no chopping. It is so effortless even a Mom striking on Mother’s Day can make it without considering it actual work. This is a must for your weekday repertoire and for those Mother Hubbard moments when you’re not on your fresh and fancy game.

I have no picture, but hey, it’s tomato sauce with lots of butter. And there is not a smidge of tofu or tempeh left in the house. What could possibly go wrong?

Three Ingredient Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups tomatoes, in addition to their juices (for example, a 28-ounce can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes)
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion (or a big shallot), peeled and cut in half
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter and the onion halves in a saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt.
  2. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with a spoon. Add salt as needed.
  3. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta. (This is a stealth move. Moms—grab that onion for yourself and mash it right up. It’s delish!) This recipe makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta.

 

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Let it Be Lentils

2016-04-25 lentil-salad

The incredibly sexy lentil, all dressed up and ready to go anywhere.

Yes it’s been a while. And yes, you so deserve something fabulous for all that time off. What I’ve got for you are lentils. But not just lentils. Lentils that are picnic and lunch-in-a-jar worthy. Lentils that are daringly pot-luck worthy.

The first recipe—known to Googlers and My New Roots fans as “The Best Lentil Salad Ever”—is one I’ve been making for quite a while and swore I had already posted. All I’ve given you in the past from the lentil family, however, is a beautifully simple recipe in lunch deconstructed. This recipe is on the opposite side of the ingredient scale, thanks to the spice-crazy dressing. But the dressing makes it, and takes mere measuring vs. skill or labor.

I have on occasion violated the heck out of this recipe, omitting all extras, substituting spices, using raisins instead of currants and brown lentils instead of the fancy French ones. But I have also, recently, made it exactly as instructed, and fallen in love with it all over again. So make it as you will, with or without artistic license. It may or may not be the best lentil salad ever. If you are my sons, who have vowed to never, ever, eat a lentil it is the best lentil salad they’ll never have. If you are new to lentils it may win you over. If you are already a fan, dig in.

The Best-ish Lentil Salad Ever

Makes: a ton

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups (1 lb.) Du Puy lentils
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 cup dried currants (you could also use raisins or other dried fruit)
  • 1/3 cup capers

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. strong mustard
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Optional add-ins:

  • Arugula
  • Walnuts (these are more like mandatory. Walnuts and lentils? Basically married)
  • Goat cheese
  • Fresh herbs: flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, basil
  • Sprouts
  • Crispy seasonal veggies

    Directions:

    1. Rinse lentils well, drain. Place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Check lentils for doneness after 15 minutes, but they should take about 20 minutes in total. You will know they are cooked if they still retain a slight tooth – al dente! Overcooking the lentils is the death of this dish. Be careful!
    2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
    3. Finely dice red onion – the salad is best if all the ingredients are about the same size. If using raisins, chop them roughly to make them a bit smaller, and do the same with the capers if they are large.
    4. When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled slightly but still a little warm, place lentils in a large serving bowl and toss with dressing. Add other onion, capers, and currants. If using other add-ins such as herbs, greens, or cheese, wait until just before serving. Otherwise, this salad can hang out in the fridge for a couple days.

Lentils doing lunch

Lentils doing lunch

Lentils Part Deux

This next one is new to me. Creamy and cool vs shiny and spicy. It’s good though, and it really does keep for several days. I ignored the part about not bruising the spinach and basil and cut it as best I could. Pros use the babiest, farmiest spinach possible. Non pros may have bought a bag of baby arugula and been done with it (shhh!) According to the original creator, Peter Miller, who is a bring-lunch-to-work master: “Make this with a light touch so you can taste the different ingredients involved. And serve it in smaller portions than you might imagine—let people come back for seconds. It is a nod to pesto and a salute to yogurt.” That, my friends, is solid lentil prose.

Adapted slightly from Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal

Peter Millers Lentils Folded into Yogurt

Serves 4

At home

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (small green Puy, or any other that will hold its shape)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

At the office (or the lodge, the car, the field or your friends house)

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, sliced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. At home: Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts or walnuts and cook until lightly toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Lay them out on a wooden cutting board to cool, then chop them roughly to the size of the lentils.
  2. If your knife is sharp enough to slice the spinach and basil leaves without bruising them, gently cut them into bite-size pieces. Otherwise, tear them by hand.
  3. Place the lentils in a bowl and mix in the spinach, basil, parsley, and garlic (note: If you’d like the spinach and basil to hold their green form better, add them toward the end instead). Squeeze the lemon into the lentils, mix, and then fold in the yogurt. Mix again, then slowly pour in the oil, stirring, as you do, to combine. At this point, taste the mixture, and season with salt and 2 good grindings of pepper. Finally, fold the roasted nuts into the dish, and finish with a drizzle of oil. The dish is now ready to serve.
  4. The lentils and greens will keep in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.
  5. At the shop/eating venue: For lunch, bring the lentils and greens close to room temperature before serving. They can go on a slice of buttered (and perhaps grilled) bread, or on a lettuce leaf as a salad. Top the lentils with a squeeze of lemon juice, some Parmesan, and a final grind of fresh pepper. Sometimes, if there are any lentils left after lunch, we serve them as a late-day snack, with a little extra salt at the end.

 

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Chupe de Pollo con Chipotle

chipotle-chili-ck-1687650-x[1]First, I know it’s spring and everyone is thinking light, fresh, vibrant. So what’s with the winter stew you ask?  Here’s the scoop…

  1. It’s going to be 30 degrees and snowing at my house today (good grief!).  Every time I share this meal with someone they ask for the recipe (a Bring It pre-requisite).  I recently made this for a friend and I forgot how darn good it is.

In all seriousness, this recipe is a winner. It came to me from a friend who brought it to my house many years ago. I had a bike accident which resulted in a lot of couch time and several months on crutches. I couldn’t do much except sit, read, watch movies and visit with friend. It was so hard not to cook! On the up side, my unbelievably generous neighbors and good friends made meals for me and my family while I was out of commission. They delivered 3-4 meals each week right to my doorstep and there was always enough for left overs. It was so kind of them and very much appreciated (my husband loved it so much that when I came off crutches he actually said, “I’m going to miss the meal delivery”!). One of the meals they brought was this chicken stew. We all loved it and I had to have the recipe. Since then, I’ve made it over and over for friends and family and, every time I shared this meal with someone, they asked for the recipe. And so, a Bring It entry was way overdue!

This stew has a bit of a kick with the chipotle peppers. Careful if you are wimpy in terms of “heat”. It can get away from you quickly. Otherwise, go for it and enjoy!

Ingredients

1 (7 ounce) can chipotle in adobo sauce
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
6 garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups fat free, less sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 (15.5 ounce) can white or golden hominy, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup whipping cream (I used 1% milk)
1 cup chopped, seeded plum tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Remove 1 chile and 1 tsp adobo sauce from can (reserve remaining chiles and sauce for another use). Finely chop chili, set chile and sauce aside separately.
  2. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped chile, onion, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic), cook 6-7 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Stir in broth, bring to a boil. Add chicken, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and cool slightly (enough so you can handle it). Shred chicken with 2 forks, cover, keep warm.
  3. Remove pan from heat, let stand 5 minutes. Place 1/3 of broth mixture in blender and process until smooth. Pour broth mixture into large bowl and repeat procedure in two more batches. Return pureed broth to Dutch oven. Stir in potatoes and hominy; bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in chicken and cream, simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining adobo sauce, tomatoes, cilantro, and salt/pepper.

Bring It

Bring in original pot or crockpot with crusty loaf of bread – super easy.

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Lemonpalooza

On-pillows-light

California Dreamin’ on Such a Winter’s Day

Lemonpalooza: n. a celebration of all that is warm, bright and tangy; hope in the home stretch of winter; antidote to a common addiction amongst native Californians and Floridians; yum.

As I was packing a shoe box of Meyer lemons in to my checked baggage, my sister suggested: “You need lemon rehab.” A day earlier I had packed a flat rate priority mail box with lemons and had just returned from the home tree with another batch. Earlier she had bottled a batch of lemon syrup for me, and the lemon possets for dessert were cooling in the fridge. Gnawing on the peel of a juiced half lemon (dentists everywhere are recoiling) I nodded. “You might be right.”

But there is no kicking this addiction. As I boarded my plane back to NH I could not help but have a pang for every Meyer lemon left unpicked in the family tree and in the entire Bay Area megalopolis. I take solace in knowing I did my best.

Here’s a small sampling of how those lemons will be worshiped this week:

The first recipe comes from “The Lemon Cookbook” (of lemon cauliflower couscous fame) which I gave to my sister. The book’s chicken and toasted bread salad has been among their family’s Bring-It staples ever since. It’s sturdy, hearty, delicately and boldly flavored (can that be? Yes, oh yes!) with co-roasted lemons and shallots. And here’s the real kicker—it’s even better the next day.

The ease of rotisserie chicken notwithstanding, reading and re reading all the steps makes the entire recipe a pain in the butt to make the first time. That said, virtually all the labor (and flavor) is in the dressing. So we’re going to take just that element on now, and it will make for many happy salads with or without chicken and toasted bread. 

The other recipes are ridiculously easy: Meyer lemon simple syrup is a juice-intensive staple to brighten tea, seltzer, pancakes, vodka, etc; and lemon posset is a sweet, tart, creamy, perfectly textured pudding/custard with no eggs or special techniques involved.

As good as these recipes are, they are merely a gateway to all the transformational possibilities of Meyer lemons in winter. Roast them, juice them, preserve them (Pickled lemon chutney? I’m looking at you next!), and let them bring a little sunshine in to your life.

Roasted Lemon-Shallot VinaigretteLemon-salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon, halved and seeded with the tip of a sharp knife
  • 8 oz shallots peeled and halved if large
  • 3 large cloves garlic unpeeled
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 ½ tsp kosher salt, divided
  • juice of one lemon

Method:

Preheat oven to 400. Toss lemon, shallots, garlic and 2 sprigs thyme in 1/4 cup oil and 1 tsp salt. Spread in baking dish in one layer, with cut sides of lemon down. Cover with foil and bake 45-55 minutes or so, until shallots are caramelized and lemons are totally soft. Remove from oven and let cool.

When cool, remove lemon pulp from peel and put it (minus peel and any remaining seeds) into the blender. Add shallots, garlic insides (squeezed from skin), lemon juice, and any accumulated liquid to the blender. Process until smooth. Add remaining oil in a stream. Stir in thyme leaves from remaining sprigs and salt to taste.

Say tuned for a pro version of the chicken and toasted bread salad, pictured above, which is leftover roasted chicken tossed with arugula, plumped currants, rustic bread—torn, tossed with oil and oven-toasted— and this dressing.

This next recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated, so even though it is super simple of course it has some crazy essential step. In this case it is measuring the hot liquid until it is the proper volume. They have a workaround which is even more complicated, so let’s just stick to Plan A. It’s no big.

Lemon Possetposset

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 6 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
  • Fresh blueberries or raspberries

Combine cream, sugar and zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Heat, stirring as mixture boils. Boil, stirring frequently, for 8-12 minutes, until reduced to 2 cups (pour it off into pyrex measuring cup to check when it’s there). Remove from heat, stir in juice and let cool 20 minutes. Strain into bowl or directly into six individual ramekins/posset containers (see at right. who knew?). Discard strained zest, or eat it when nobody is looking. Chill possets uncovered until set, at least 3 hours. Wrap and store in refrigerator for up to two days. To serve, unwrap and let sit at room temperature 10 minutes. Garnish with berries.

 

Meyer Lemon Simple SyrupSyrup-tree

2 cups strained fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 cups granulated sugar
zest of 3 Meyer lemons

Wash and gently scrub lemons. Using a zester or vegetable peeler, remove strips of zest from fruit, being careful to remove only the yellow zest, none of the bitter white pith.

Combine sugar, zest and lemon juice in medium saucepan. Heat until simmering over medium heat, stirring to completely dissolve sugar. Increase heat and bring to a gentle boil. Remove saucepan from heat. Cover and set aside to steep 10 minutes. Strain into glass containers. Discard zest, or, you know what I’d do.

Makes 3 cups. The syrup will keep 1 week in the refrigerator, 6 months in the freezer.

granite-lemons

Southern Comfort in the Granite State

 

 

 

 

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The Souper Bowl

Souper Bowl of green goodness

What if all your favorite ingredients jumped in pool of green goodness? It could happen.

It’s tough being a Raiders fan. But it does take the pressure of having to ever get worked up over the Super Bowl. This year, once again, I have no skin in the game, which clears the way to concentrate on snacks.

This “soup” is more of a pesto-like base that is diluted with hot water to become the venue for a pool party of your favorite ingredients. Ever since seeing it on a list of  “best yet most ignored recipes of 2015,” I’ve been wanting to make it. It’s got it all—fresh greens and savory herbs, spicy ginger, hot peppers, edgy garlic, creamy almonds and a sweet touch of honey. A severe lack of both exercise and vegetables has only intensified my desire to have a batch of green goodness on hand.

Disclaimer here: This is not for everyone, as attested to by some haters in the comments on the original recipe. If you want a thick creamy soup that is filling on its own, make yourself a batch of the best squash soup ever. This make a thin, flavorful broth which can be sipped like therapy on its own, or used as the backdrop for all manner of yummy things. I also find it pretty irresistible in its undiluted form where it can be used like pesto: spread thinly on toasts, bruschetta style; dabbled atop burrata; swirled into hot grains, pasta or roasted veggies, etc.

I totally support  the pursuit of tradition. Go boldly into the meaty, cheesy, creamy core of the Internet to find classic super bowl snacks. But while you’re getting chips and cheese and potato skins and fixin’s for chili (don’t forget the killer cornbread) and seven layer dip, throw some greens and citrus, ginger and peppers in your cart. Whir up this concoction in the food processor it will sit quietly ready for when you crave an instant bowl of health and comfort.

With a thorough tour of the produce department and very little time or effort you can make a supply of this and know you have paid your health insurance premium through winter.

Souper Bowl with Roasted kabocha squash

Roasted kabocha squash filled with green goodness and topped with frizzled shallots and toasted seeds. Can you say extra credit?

The Souper Bowl of Green Goodness

AKA Heidi Swansons Spicy Green Soup

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup (20 grams) firmly packed basil leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups (35 grams) firmly packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1/4 cup (7 grams) lightly packed mint leaves
  • A thick 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small serrano chiles, stemmed
  • 1/2 cup (45 grams) sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey (Vegans- do your workarounds)

Options for Making it Awesome:

  • Poached eggs, hot white beans, soba noodles, or brown rice, to serve
  • Chopped black olives, lemon wedges, toasted almonds, shaved green onions, or roasted, sliced mushrooms (or other oven-roasted vegetable), to top

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, bring water just to a simmer.
  2. As the water heats, combine the garlic, basil, cilantro, mint, ginger, olive oil, chiles, almonds, salt, lemon zest, and honey in a food processor. Blend until smooth, thinning with a couple of tablespoons of cold water and scraping down the sides along the way, until the mixture becomes as smooth as possible.
  3. Taste and adjust to your liking; the paste should be strong and spicy.
  4. Just before serving, add the paste to the simmering water and stir well. Dial back the heat at this point; you don’t want it to return to a simmer, but you do want it very hot.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning—a bit more salt or a squeeze of lemon juice. (Editors’ note: Don’t skimp on the lemon!) Ladle into bowls with your chosen accompaniment and enjoy on its own or topped with any of the suggested toppings.

Bonus Recipe

I ran across this recipe for Vegan bouillon (see way below). I have not made it yet, but the fact that it includes miso and nutritional yeast—two totally weird tastes that I love—made me put dried mushrooms at the top of my shopping list. It’s an umami bonanza.

Vegan Bouillon

By Joe Yonan The Washington Post

Makes 1 cup; enough for sixteen 1-cup servings of broth. The bouillon paste can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 6 weeks or refrigerated for 3 to 4 months.

Ingredients

1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4
cup porcini mushroom powder (may substitute 6 tablespoons shiitake mushroom powder; see NOTE)
1/4
cup white miso
1/4
cup canola or other neutrally flavored oil
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon granulated garlic (powder)
1 tablespoon celery seed
2 teaspoons sea salt

Method:

Combine the nutritional yeast, mushroom powder, white miso, oil, soy sauce, onion and garlic powders, celery seed and sea salt in a food processor; process to form a thick, smooth paste.

Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container.

Note: Make your own mushroom powder by crumbling dried mushrooms in a blender, food processor or a clean electric coffee grinder and processing until finely ground.

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