Colossal Stuffed Burger

Summer is right around the corner, and that means it's time to bust out the grill! My husband and I went for a nice walk  around the neighborhood and it seemed like EVERYONE was grilling something... steak, burgers, hot dogs, etc. You name it, we smelled it! IMG_0510 We christened our grill for the season last week with this Colossal Stuffed Burger. This is a fun twist on a traditional burger - it's actually a giant 2-pound burger designed to feed everyone. (Well, around 4-6 people.) What a fun way to entertain! IMG_0514 It's got a bit of Italian flavor, as it's stuffed with caramelized mushrooms and mozzarella cheese and served up on a giant loaf of sweet bread. I wouldn't normally think to pair Italian with a burger, but it really worked, and we "mmmm'd" through the whole meal. Start with your mushrooms. Simply sauté a package of sliced mushrooms in some butter until golden brown. While your mushrooms are cooking, prepare the beef mixture. Just a mix of ground beef, grated Parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and soy sauce. Divide it in two, and then shape each into a jumbo patty. It should be 8-10 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. To assemble the giant burger, spread a bit of tomato paste over one patty. Top with the mushrooms and some grated mozzarella. Then, cover with the remaining patty and pinch the edges to seal. PicMonkey Collage Very carefully, slide the patty onto a grill preheated to medium. Cook 25-35 minutes, until the meat is done to your liking. (I used a meat thermometer and pulled it off once it hit 155-160*F.) IMG_0503 IMG_0507 Let it rest for a few minutes, then serve it up on a split round loaf of sweet bread with some mixed greens. Cut into wedges and serve. IMG_0509 Check out that cheese! YUM! IMG_0516

Colossal Stuffed Burger

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 8-oz package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 round loaf Hawaiian sweet bread
  • torn mixed greens

Method

1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and salt; cook 5-10 minutes until golden brown and caramelized.

2. Meanwhile, combine beef with Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix until combined. Divide into two equal portions. Pat each into an 8-10 inch jumbo burger patty about 1-inch thick.

3. Place one of the burger patties on a plate. Spread tomato sauce over center of patty, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with sautéed mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. Cover with remaining burger patty, pinching edges to seal.

4. Grill over medium heat, 25-35 minutes until meat is done (cooked to 160*F). Remove from grill.

5. Meanwhile, split Hawaiian loaf in half and broil until lightly toasted. Assemble burger, topping with mixed greens. Cut into wedges to serve.

Source: adapted from Better Homes & Garden 'Our Best Recipes'

Mary’s Memo – May 18th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Chronicle Books has a new cookbook series, Recipes for Good Times, showcasing a bite-size collection of recipes culled from their most popular cookbooks. For me, the outdoor grilling seasons starts Memorial Day weekend. Grill Eats & Drinks includes 20 special recipes that will inspire food lovers to take the party outside from alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, quick appetizers and simple salads to great-for-the-grill main dishes. With color photographs of each recipe, you’ll be tempted to try them all! Grilled Corn with Chipotle Butter is an appropriate “side.” Chipotle Butter can be made a week ahead and refrigerated.

GRILLED CORN WITH CHIPOTLE BUTTER


Butter:

• 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
• 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, seeds removed & finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together the butter, chipotles, garlic, salt and pepper until just combined. Transfer the mixture to a 12-inch piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to roll butter into a log roughly the size of a stick of butter. Place butter in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

• 6 ears corn, husked

Prepare enough coal for a medium-hot charcoal fire, or preheat your gas grill on medium high for 10 minutes with the lid closed. Grill corn for 10 to 12 minutes, turning frequently as bottoms begin to turn golden brown. Serve immediately with chipotle butter on the side. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Chronicle Books, 2015, 14.95/hardback.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


Q: When a recipe calls for zest of an orange, lemon or lime, what is it?
A: Zest is limited to outer edge of citrus fruit, no white membrane included.

Q: Can I replace whole milk with skim or regular sour cream with reduced-fat or fat-free in a recipe?
A: Yes, unless it’s to make something where the fat in the milk is necessary for best baking results. Reduced-fat products work well in such things as quiches, frittatas and brunch dishes.

Q: Why include extra gluten in bread when it already has gluten?
A: According to Dinah Dalder, MS, RD, CNSC, CD, Dietetics Program Manager, Purdue University Department of Nutrition Science, her inclination is that additional gluten is added to hold the bread together and give it more structure.

Q: What snack is a good alternative to chips?
A: Like many of you, I have a weakness for potato chips but according to Consumer Reports On Health, a better choice is Calbee Snapea Crisps Original Lightly Salted at 110 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 66 mg sodium, 5 g protein and 4 g fiber. Look for them in the produce department.

ZINC: NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT!


This mineral is needed for the enzymes that regulate cell division, wound healing, immunity and other essential functions. Zinc is plentiful in foods, especially meats and seafood, but strict vegetarian diets may not contain much of it. Zinc supplements are promoted to treat colds, improve prostate health and alleviate age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

If you are Vegan or are for any reason not consuming adequate zinc, consider taking a basic multi containing zinc (not a separate high-dose zinc supplement). If you want to try zinc lozenges when you have a cold, start as soon as you have symptoms. There’s no evidence that zinc or any supplement can prevent AMD or cataracts or otherwise protect healthy eyes.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, 2015 Special Spring/Summer Issue.

ANOTHER “THUMBS UP” RECIPE


Original recipe said to toast pecans in the oven but I find that stirring frequently in a skillet is much faster and nuts are less likely to burn. Bryan Chief tasters were impressed with this salad/side dish.

GREEN BEANS WITH PECANS AND MAPLE VINAIGRETTE


• 3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
• 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
• 2 pounds green beans, trimmed
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

In medium size skillet spread pecans in a single layer. Over medium heat, stir frequently until nuts are aromatic. Cool and roughly chop. While nuts are cooling, bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding 1 tablespoon salt. When water boils, add prepared green beans and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool. In large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper plus maple syrup. Add green beans and pecans and toss to combine. Recipe makes 8 servings.
Source: Adapted from Real Simple recipe.

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Italian Chopped Salad

Happy late Mother's Day to all the moms and mom-like figures out there... hope you enjoyed your day! I celebrated my 1st Mother's Day with my little family. My hubby got my favorite breakfast (chocolate sprinkle donuts!) and we spent a lot of time outside in the gorgeous weather. I'll admit, it was almost a bit hot outside, though I won't complain. (I complained so much during the cold winter that I told myself I'm not allowed to complain about any amount of heat. Bring it on!) IMG_0382 Salads are a nice refreshing meal when it's warmer outside... something about the crisp veggies and tangy dressing is perfect when the temps start to climb. Italian Chopped Salad takes your favorite Italian ingredients and flavors - cheese, salami, roasted peppers - and combines them all in a crisp salad tossed in a homemade vinaigrette. There are a few elements to the salad, but once you have them all prepped, it's a really quick meal. Here's a run-down of the prep work.
  • Prep the chickpeas. (Toss with oil, lemon juice, oregano, and red pepper flakes.)
  • Shred the cheese. (Gouda is an excellent choice here.)
  • Slice/dice the red onion, peppers, and salami.
  • Make the dressing.
Then just toss the dressing with the lettuce, and top with the fun stuff! IMG_0379 Perfect served with a loaf of crusty bread. (Because eating a salad justifies eating a whole loaf of bread, in my opinion...) IMG_0380

Italian Chopped Salad

Yield: 2-3 servings as a main dish; 4-6 servings as a side dish

  • For the chickpeas:
    • 14-oz can chickpeas
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • ½ teaspoon oregano
    • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • For the dressing:
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • For the salad:
    • 4-5 cups baby spinach
    • 4-5 cups chopped romaine
    • ½ cup diced red onion
    • 1 jar roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
    • 1-2 cups freshly grated smoked gouda cheese
    • 4-5 oz Italian salami, thinly sliced and/or diced
    • seasoned chickpeas (from above)
    • dressing (from above)

Method

1. For chickpeas, combine chickpeas with olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, red pepper, and salt & pepper. Toss to combine.

2. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small container or jar and shake until smooth.

3.

For the salad, mix together spinach and romaine in large bowl. Toss with dressing. Top with red onion, peppers, gouda, salami, and chickpeas.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Spring Veggie Lasagna Skillet

Mmmmmm, lasagna. One of the world's best comfort foods. Carbs, cheese, need I say more? From a self-proclaimed carb-a-holic, this is my type of meal! Last week, I ran my 5th marathon, first one since having my baby boy. (Yes, I might be crazy. There's something about training for a distance event that keeps me coming back for more and more.) Marathon training requires lots of carbs - and this lasagna definitely fit the bill last week when I was loading up for the big race. IMG_0341 Spring Veggie Lasagna Skillet is a shortcut lasagna - no need to make all the layers. The veggies are all cooked in one skillet, then tossed with a creamy sauce and broken up lasagna noodles. The whole thing is covered in grated cheese and baked for just a short while. (Not the usual 60-90 minutes that lasagna requires.) Bonus? It's packed with LOADS of veggies! Asparagus, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and spinach. Even my mushroom-hating husband gobbled this meal. Start by par-boiling your lasagna noodles. You want to cook them a couple minutes shy of al dente, because they will continue cooking in the oven. Then work on your veggies. Pour some olive oil in an oven-safe skillet, and add your onion and mushrooms. Cook about 10 minutes or so, then add the garlic and spinach. It seems like a TON of spinach, but it cooks down. At the end, add your asparagus. PicMonkey Collage Meanwhile, make your white sauce. It's just a simple white sauce made of milk thickened with a roux of butter & flour, and a little Parmesan cheese. (I somehow missed a picture of this. Picture a slightly thickened white sauce.) Pour the sauce over the veggies, add the noodles, and toss everything together to coat. Top it with ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese. Pop the skillet into the oven and let it bake 15-20 minutes at 425*F until golden & toasty. IMG_0338 For the ultimate carb-feast, serve it up with some toasty garlic bread! ---

Spring Veggie Lasagna Skillet

Yield: 3-4 servings

  • 6-8 lasagna noodles, broken into 3-4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 8-oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • tablespoons minced garlic
  • 6-oz bag baby spinach
  • 10-12 asparagus spears, ends removed & cut into 1-inchpieces
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper, to taste
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • cups milk
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1-2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Method

1. Preheat oven to 425. Cook pasta according to package directions, shaving 2-3 minutes off cooking time. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook for 8-10 minutes until onions are softened. Add garlic and spinach, stirring well. Cook until spinach is wilted and cooked down. Add asparagus, stirring well. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

3. For the sauce, heat a small saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, until it turns golden brown & nutty. Whisk in milk and whisk continuously until mixture is thickened. (It won’t get super thick.) Stir in Parmesan cheese. Season with salt & pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

4. Pour the sauce over the vegetables in the skillet and turn off the heat. Add in the partially cooked lasagna noodles, and toss to distribute evenly. Cover with dollops of ricotta cheese and cover with grated mozzarella.

5. Place skillet in 425*F oven for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is golden & bubbly and noodles are tender. Remove and let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

Mary’s Memo – May 11th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Who says you can’t eat fabulously well on a budget? In her newest book, Good Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners for $10 or Less by Jessica Fisher (Harvard Common Press, September 2014, $16.95/softcover) Fisher shows readers how easy it is to eat well without breaking the bank. In over 200 recipes complete with full color photos she offers a delicious alternative to familiar weeknight take-out with nourishing, from scratch meals that save time and money. As the creator of two very popular blogs, Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats, as well as the mother of six, Jessica Fisher is both a seasoned cook and someone who lives by her hard-won wisdom for budget-friendly cooking. Continuing our “eat more carrots” theme, here is Fisher’s recipe for Buttery Dill Carrots. Although her mom probably added sugar or honey to the carrots, Fisher prefers to let sweet carrots “speak for themselves.”

BUTTERY DILL CARROTS


• 6 medium carrots, peeled & sliced thick on the bias
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
• Kosher salt and ground fresh pepper
• Pinch of cayenne pepper

Place the carrots in a steamer basket in a medium-size stock pot with 1-inch water. Bring water to a boil, cover, and steam the carrots until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain carrots and transfer them to a serving dish. Add the butter and dill and season with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Toss gently to coat. Recipe serves 4.
Source: Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher, Harvard Common Press. Cookbook is available from Amazon.com.

WHAT IS FARRO?


Organic farro (pronounced FAHR-oh) is an ancient hulled grain with a chewy texture and slightly nutty flavor. It can be cooked and used in a variety of recipes such as soups and salads. Farro can also be ground into flour and used in place of wheat flour to make bread, pasta and other baked goods. A member of the wheat family, it is not gluten free. Used in Italy for centuries, farro recently became popular when French restaurants started serving it in hearty vegetable soup. Farro is a common ingredient in many Mediterranean dishes. It can replace rice in pilaf or risotto recipes.
Source: Olive Nation, Your Secret Ingredient.

NEW DIETARY GUIDELINES RELAX FOCUS ON CHOLESTEROL


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans will be updated later this year and cholesterol, one of the most closely monitored ingredients in food due to its links to heart disease, will no longer be listed as a “nutrient of concern.” Apart from this, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report (the basis for the Dietary Guidelines), published February 19, 2015, encourages a dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, legumes and nuts; moderate in low and non-fat dairy products and alcohol; and low in red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2015.

ANOTHER RISK


Another risk posed by “belly fat”: It may weaken bones and muscle, according to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Most studies have linked obesity to better musculoskeletal health because of the greater mechanical demands put on bones and muscle simply from having to maneuver a larger body. But when researchers at the University of Michigan examined CT scans of torsos of 8,800 people ages 18 to 65, they found that greater visceral fat deposits (fat deposited around organs in the abdomen) were associated with worse bone density and poorer muscle, regardless of age, sex and body mass index. Visceral fat may infiltrate muscles and bones and thus weaken them, researchers suggested.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, May 2015.

FROM THE ARCHIVES


Among the cookbooks I really treasure are ones published by the food editors of Farm Journal magazine eons ago. Their America’s Best Vegetable Recipes is still a favorite. I mention this because it includes a recipe for Whipped Turnips that according to taste-testers was the best turnip recipe they ever tasted! Daughter Mary Ann and I agree! It makes a lot so feel free to halve it.

FARM JOURNAL WHIPPED TURNIPS


• 4 cups mashed cooked turnips
• 2 cups soft bread crumbs
• 1/2 cup melted butter
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 4 eggs, slightly beaten

Combine turnips with bread crumbs. (To prepare soft bread crumbs, remove crust from fresh bread; cut or tear into tiny cubes.) Blend in remaining ingredients. Place in greased 2-quart casserole. Bake in moderate 3500F. oven 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until set. Makes 8 servings.

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Mary’s Memo – May 4th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


I know how the author of this week’s book feels because Trisha Yearwood, Country Music superstar as well as Food Network contributor, has a brand new cookbook in collaboration with her sister, Beth Yearwood Bernard (Clarkson Potter Publishers; $29.99/hardback) called Trisha’s Table, with introduction by spouse Garth Brooks. My copy was purchased at Costco for $17.99 and it’s also available from Amazon.com for a reduced price plus shipping.

I did make her Kale Soup and although it has a good flavor, when making again I would not wilt the kale in a covered pot for 7 to 10 minutes because it wilts in far less time and not covered! Mine was way overcooked and no longer bright green. Also, recipe said to uncover, add ½ cup Parmesan cheese and heat through for about 5 more minutes. Even at simmering temperature what I added clumped together. Instead, I plan to sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each serving. That said, if you like southern recipes as much as I do, it’s still is a cookbook worth buying. Whether surprisingly virtuous or just a little bit sinful, recipes in Trish’s Table include dairy-free Angel Hair Pasta with Avocado Pesto, low-calorie Billie’s Houdini Chicken Salad, vegetarian Smashed Sweet Pea Burgers and too-good-to-give-up Slow Cooker Georgia Pulled Pork Barbecue and Snappy Pear Crumble to name a few. Her goal is to share food that tastes good and is good for you!

WHY I’M STILL COOKING


Someone asked me recently why I still like to cook. In addition to doing the memo for Chief, I still prefer my food to what is available in a restaurant. That’s not to say I don’t like restaurants because over the years I’ve eaten in some of our nation’s finest ones, but I can eat healthier and much cheaper at home. Ditto for fast-food restaurants! Keep this in mind next time you’re thinking of taking the family to one. Even with newspaper coupons, it’s hard not to spend less than $5.00 per person!

Don’t get me wrong: Eating out with children is a social experience and I’m for that! A treat for our children when they were young was eating at Brownie’s Drive-In in Bryan, the first one in the area. Children need to learn how to behave in a restaurant (some don’t) and make food choices from a menu. And yes, I enjoyed the break as much as the rest of the family!

Some things that “turn me off” in a restaurant are unclean restrooms, table tops and seats being wiped off with the same cloth, dirty windows and waiters or waitresses without hairnets, soiled aprons and dirty nails. Does this seem persnickety on my part? You bet! PS: At mealtime, look for restaurants with an almost full parking lot.

“MIND” DIET MAY REDUCE RISK OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE


Following a diet called the Mediterranean-DASH (MIND) diet is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The MIND diet consists of 15 food groups of which 10 are “brain-healthy” and five of which are “unhealthy.” The 10 brain-healthy groups include green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. The unhealthy food groups are red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food. Researchers found that study participants whose food intake closely matched the MIND diet, the Mediterranean-style diet, or the DASH diet were at 39 to 54 percent lower risk of AD. However, they found that moderate adherence to the MIND diet was associated with a 35 percent lower risk of developing AD. The study findings were published on line February 15, 2015 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2015.

Bryan Chief customers were impressed with Mediterranean Green Beans, an excellent side dish now and when your garden ones are available. For maximum eye appeal, do not overcook the green beans.

MEDITERRANEAN GREEN BEANS


Dressing:

• 1/3 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
• 1 large shallot, sliced
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Stir together olives, shallot, red wine vinegar, mustard and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Whisk in olive oil to form a thick emulsion. Add salt and pepper to taste.

• 1 pound fresh green beans, ends snipped

In a Dutch oven or similar size pot, bring enough water to a boil to cook green beans. When water is boiling, add prepared green beans Cook, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes or until bright and crisp-tender. Plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking process; drain and pat dry. Toss together beans and dressing mixture. Serve at room temperature or cover and chill up to 2 hours.
Source: Adapted from June 2014 Southern Living magazine recipe.

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Blackberry & Havarti Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Have you ever tried Havarti cheese? If not, make sure you put it on your grocery list ASAP! It's so creamy and smooth, with a mild buttery taste. We love to eat it with crackers, on sandwiches, or simply by the slice. It pairs really well with fruit, so when I saw a recipe for a chicken sandwich using blackberries & Brie cheese, I thought I'd switch it up using my favorite Havarti. Blackberry & Havarti Grilled Chicken Sandwiches layer freshly grilled chicken breasts with a fresh blackberry compote and Havarti cheese all on a toasted Ciabatta bun. It's a quick 30-minute meal that is fresh and flavorful. IMG_0092 First off, get your chicken going on the grill. I like to use boneless skinless chicken breasts because they are quick and easy (and healthy.) I just season mine with a bit of salt & pepper. IMG_0090 While the chicken is cooking, make the blackberry compote. Mash a container of fresh blackberries (which are SO good this time of year!) with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and fresh thyme. IMG_0086 Once the chicken is done, get the buns ready. I found some delicious Ciabatta buns in the bakery section of my Chief, but you can use your favorite type of bun. Layer the bottom of each bun with a few slices of Havarti cheese, and place them under the broiler until the bread is toasted and the cheese melts. IMG_0091 Now, it's just assembly time! Layer up the chicken, blackberry compote, and some fresh spinach leaves. Serve up with some potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, or go the easy route with a bag of chips. ;) IMG_0097

Blackberry & Havarti Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Yield: 4 sandwiches

  • 6-oz package fresh blackberries
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper, to taste
  • 1-1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 4 ciabatta buns
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 4-6 oz Havarti cheese, sliced

Method

1. In a small bowl, combine blackberries, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey. Season with salt & pepper; mash to combine.

2. Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness, or butterfly to make thinner. Season with salt & pepper. Grill over medium heat 5-6 minutes on each side until cooked through.

3. Preheat oven to broil. To assemble sandwiches, cut rolls in half and place on a baking sheet. Cover the bottom half with sliced Havarti cheese. Broil 2-5 minutes until golden brown and cheese is melted. Place a piece of grilled chicken on the bottom of each bun; top with blackberry mixture and baby spinach. Top with remaining bun and serve.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats 

Mary’s Memo – April 27th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


I know how the author of this week’s book feels because I’ve been told it’s the reason I wasn’t invited to dinner, even though I’m not or ever have been a professional chef like Bryan Voltaggio, author of Esquire’s Eat Like a Man Guide to Feeding A Crowd (Chronicle Books, Spring 2015, $30.00/hardback). Like Voltaggio, I don’t care if it’s a hot dog or filet mignon, I’ll relish it!

Regarding his book, the author says that having people at your home, eating from great tubs of pasta or hacking a few inches off a foot-long sandwich or slicing steaks you’ve brought in from the grill is every man’s dream. Eat Like a Man Guide to Feeding a Crowd includes 80 recipes, many from world-class chefs, plus party-throwing techniques, time-savers and a few cocktails. Dinner party in two weeks? You’re covered. Spontaneous game watching in two hours? Hungry houseguests on a Saturday morning? No problem. In the author’s own words: “This is a one-of-a-kind indispensable book!”

Bryan Voltaggio is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and co-owner and executive chef of 5 restaurants. He lives in Maryland with his wife and 3 children.

Adapted by the Esquire Kitchen, we’re sharing the late Lee Bailey’s Corn Fritter recipe. Almost every cuisine has a fried-batter breakfast food and in the American South they’re called fritters. Originally concocted by Afro-Caribbean slaves using American ingredients, I personally love corn fritters and made them for many Sunday and holiday breakfasts when we were a family of six.

LEE BAILEY’S CORN FRITTERS


• Peanut oil for frying
• 1 cup white corn meal
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 cup creamed corn
• 4 to 6 tablespoons milk
• Warm maple syrup for serving

Preheat the oven to 2000F. Pour oil into a heavy saucepan to a depth of at least 3 inches but no more than halfway up the sides. Heat oil over medium-high heat to 3650 to 3750F. A long-stemmed deep-frying thermometer is ideal here. If you don’t have one , just heat until oil shimmers and a drop of batter browns on contact. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn meal, flour, baking powder and salt. In small bowl, stir together the egg and creamed corn, then mix into the dry ingredients. Stir in the milk, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, until batter is workable but quite thick. Batter should be thick enough to use a second spoon to urge it off the first and your fritters small enough to cook all the way through without burning the exterior. Working in small batches, drop batter by spoonful into hot oil and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fritters to paper towels to drain. Keep warm in the oven while you make the rest of the fritters, adjusting the heat under the oil as needed, to maintain a fairly consistent temperature. Transfer the fritters to warmed serving plates and serve with maple syrup. Recipe makes about 24 fritters, enough for 6 servings.

MEDITERRANEAN STYLE


Health-wise, Mediterranean style is the go-to way of eating today and this week’s Mediterranean Green Beans, served at room temperature or cold, is nice to have in the refrigerator as a side dish or salad. It’s another “thumbs up” recipe from Bryan Chief tasters.

MEDITERRANEAN GREEN BEANS


• 1/3 cup chopped pitted olives
• 1 large shallot, sliced
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 pound fresh green beans, snipped

Stir together olives, shallot, red wine vinegar, whole grain Dijon mustard and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bring a pot of salted water to boiling and drop beans into water and cook until crisp-tender. Plunge quickly into ice water to stop cooking process; drain well and pat dry. Toss together beans and olive mixture. Chill up to 2 hours before serving.
Source: Sothern Living Magazine, June 2014.

TAKE CHARGE


Engaging in enough daily physical activity to burn 100 calories can be the difference between a high risk sedentary lifestyle and being moderately inactive. Of course, you’ll want to aim for a greater level of activity over time, but just getting going can pay big dividends. Here are examples of activities that burn about 100 hundred calories, depending on your weight, in about 20 minutes: Walking briskly, gardening, lawn mowing with a power mower, playing tennis doubles, raking leaves, roller skating, shooting baskets and washing and waxing a large car.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2015

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Strawberry Nutella Bruschetta

When it comes to cooking, I love to work with seasonal ingredients. Fresh fruits are one of my favorites, but it's hard to get through the winter with just citrus fruit! Now that spring is here, I'm going crazy with berries, especially strawberries. IMG_0109   Strawberry Nutella Bruschetta is a tasty little bite perfect for a Mother's Day brunch, afternoon tea, or baby or bridal shower. Crusty bread is brushed with melted butter and toasted, then topped with a creamy Nutella mixture, fresh strawberries, and fresh mint. Get started with your bread. I picked up a loaf of crusty French bread from the Chief bakery, but you can grab whatever strikes your fancy! Cut it into small rounds, and brush with some melted butter. Pop it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. IMG_0103 While the bread is toasting, mix up your Nutella mixture. Just equal parts whipped cream cheese and Nutella. IMG_0102 To assemble the bruschetta, spread each toasted bread slice with a spoonful of the Nutella mixture, and then top with finely diced strawberries and fresh mint. Mmmm, such a great contrast of textures. The Nutella gets a little melty on the warm bread, and the mint adds a nice touch of freshness.   IMG_0107  

Strawberry Nutella Bruschetta

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup whipped cream cheese
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • 1 pint strawberries, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly chopped

Method

1. Preheat oven to broil. Place bread slices on baking sheet; brush with melted butter. Toast 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

2. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and Nutella. Spread over each toasted bread slice. Top with diced strawberries and chopped mint.

Source: adapted from Floating Kitchen

Mary’s Memo – April 20th

THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Ciao Biscotti, Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie By Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle Books, April 2015, $18.95/hardback) is filled with traditional flavors such as Hazelnut or Anise, coffeehouse classics like Cranberry Pistachio, tempting versions such as Browned Butter or Toblerone or savory ones including Mountain Gorgonzola and Walnut.

Domenica Marchetti is the author of five books, most recently The Glorious Vegetables of Italy (also published by Chronicle Books). Her articles have appeared in the Washington Post and many other publications. Her food blog is DominicaCooks.com. Photographs are by Antonis Achilleos, a New York-based photographer specializing in food and lifestyle photos. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Bon Appetit, Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living.
Cappuccino Dunkers are homemade answer to the gargantuan biscotti you find at fancy bakeries.

CAPPUCCINO DUNKERS


• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 3 large eggs
• 1 tablespoon instant expresso powder
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• Scant 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 3/4 cup whole almonds, toasted (see below)

Heat oven to 3500F. Lightly coat an 11x17-inch rimmed baking sheet with oil. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, expresso powder and vanilla. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl of a standard mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add almonds and mix on low speed to combine. Add the egg mixture and mix on medium speed until a soft, sticky dough has formed. Gather the dough on the baking sheet. Lightly moisten your hands with water and use your fingers to pat into a log about 4½ inches wide and 12 inches long. Bake log for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and just set, it should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under the log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the log cool for 5 minutes and then transfer it to the rack and cool 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 3000F. Transfer cooled log to a cutting board and using a serrated bread knife, cut it on the diagonal into 3/4-inch thick slices. Arrange slices, cut-side up, on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are crisp. Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely. The biscotti will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container stored at room temperature. Recipe makes 18 biscotti. (To skin almonds, place almonds in a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let sit about 1 minute to loosen skins. Drain and rinse and use your fingers to pop the almonds out of their skins.)
Source: Ciao Biscotti by Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle Books, April 2015, $18.95/hardback).

TAKING THE TOWN BY STORM!


On the recommendation of my sister, Ann, and recipe via niece Jennifer, I served Dill Pickle Soup at the Bryan Chief this spring. You do have to like dill pickles to enjoy this soup and I do! For that matter, I haven’t tasted any kind of pickle I didn’t like!

Originator of the soup is the Noble Pig Restaurant in Austin, TX, where menu includes only pork recipes, the soup being one of them. To cut fat calories, I replaced regular sour cream with reduced fat Daisy brand. Because dill pickles are salty, some more than others, I didn’t use any salt in the soup. Note: If you have one, doing vegetables in food processor saves time.

DILL PICKLE SOUP


• 5 1/2 cups Swanson Chicken Broth
• 5 to 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
• 2 cups chopped carrots (small dice – 2 to 3 large)
• 1 cup chopped dill pickle (about 3 large whole dills)
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup reduced-fat Daisy brand sour cream
• 1/4 cup water
• 2 cups pickle juice
• 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In large pot, combine broth, potatoes, carrots and butter; bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Add pickles and continue to boil. In medium bowl, stir together flour, sour cream and water, making a paste. Vigorously whisk sour cream mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, into soup. Although this will break up some of the potatoes, don’t be concerned. Also, you might see some initial little balls form but between whisking and boiling all will disappear! Add pickle juice, Old Bay, pepper and cayenne. Cook 5 minutes and remove from heat. Serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from noblepig.com recipe.

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