Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thousand Island Slaw with Chicken

I grew up with Thousand Island dressing. It was my salad topping of choice. And it's still the only thing I'll eat on the chef salad I whip up every now and then. Just the thought of lettuce, hard-boiled egg and turkey makes me reach for the bottle. But I won't be reaching for the bottle anymore. The homemade Thousand Island dressing from this recipe is easy to make and delicious. (Save a little to dip a few boiled shrimp in!)

Thousand Island Slaw with Chicken
From Gourmet magazine.
Serves four.

1 cooked rotisserie chicken
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated sweet onion
1/4 cup ketchup
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet relish
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
1 1/2 pounds coleslaw mix (about 10 cups)

Remove chicken meat from bones and shred or slice.

Stir together mayonnaise, onion, ketchup, vinegar, relish, caraway seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a lrage bowl. Add coleslaw mix and stir to coat.

Traansfer to a serving dish or platter and top with chicken.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cheesy Corn Bites

My classic Corn Dip has become a family tradition. Here's a hot version that has all the same flavors. We nibbled on these as we watched the Super Bowl a couple months ago. (I added red peppers and green onions for a bit more color.) Check it out....

Cheesy Corn Bites
Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray.
Makes 4 dozen.

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1 large egg
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons diced roasted red pepper (pimentos)
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
48 scoop-shaped tortilla chips (one 10 ounce bag)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, Pepper Jack cheese, egg, corn, red pepper and green onions.

Arrange the chips on a large baking sheet and place 1 teaspoon mixture in each.

Bake for about 20 minutes.

Serve warm.

Hint: Top several (or all) with a slice of pickled jalapeno before baking for a little extra kick.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sweet and Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles

I am a little (OK...a lot) late in posting this. I went on a pickling frenzy this past summer. Not the complicated canning version with boiling water and sterilized lids, but the simpler refrigerator version. Essentially you prepare the pickles as usual, but then have to keep them in the refrigerator and use them up before four or five months are up. No problem if they turn our as deliciously as mine did.

Now you don't have the bounty of the farmer's market to use in this, but you can certainly find quality cucumbers or yellow squash at your grocery store...even in the bleakest winter. So whip up a batch of these and have a little taste of summer. (And then of course make them again with the tasty baby cucumbers you'll buy at the farmer's market in a couple of months.)

This recipe is loosely adapted from one in Martha Stewart Living. Experiment with your own spice mixes to make it your own. (Hint: Hit the bulk spice section of your grocery so you don't have to buy whole bottles of these spices. It can get expensive, and you're not likely to use them all any time soon.)

Sweet and Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles
Makes about 6 cups.

2 pounds cucumbers or yellow squash, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds (about 6 1/2 cups)
1 medium white onion (about 8 ounces), halved and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
2 heaping tablespoons coarse salt
2 cups ice cubes
3 cups cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

To draw out excess liquid and increase crunch, toss cucumbers and onion with salt in a large colander. Add ice, and toss again. Place over a bowl, and refrigerate, tossing occasionally, for 3 hours. Drain. Rinse well, and drain again.

Bring vinegar, sugar, mustard and rest of the spices to a boil in a saucepan. Add cucumbers and onion. Return to a boil (if using squashes, add them, then remove from heat; do not return to a boil).

Ladle into jars and allow to cool slightly. Then seal jars and store in refrigerator for up to four months.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Salmon Mousse

This recipe doesn't have the greatest name, but it looked interesting when I saw it in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. I didn't get around to making it for the holidays, but tried it last month as a possibility for a party coming up at the end of the month.

It's delicious on light crackers or thin slices of toasted baguette. Creamy with just enough salmon flavor and nice brightness from the lemon juice. It's sure to be a hit, even with those who don't traditionally love smoked salmon.

Salmon Mousse
From Everyday Food.
Serves eight.

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce envelope)
4 ounces smoked salmon, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt
Fresh dill, for garnish (optional)
Crackers or baguette slices, for serving

Place 3 tablespoons cold water in a small saucepan, and sprinkle with gelatin; let soften, 5 minutes. Gently heat over low, stirring, just until gelatin dissolves; set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine salmon, sour cream, and lemon juice. Puree until smooth; season with salt. With motor running, add slightly cooled gelatin mixture, and blend until combined.

Pour into two 8-ounce ramekins or bowls. Without touching surface, cover container with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm but spreadable, about 2 hours or up to overnight. Garnish mousse with dill, if desired, and serve with crackers or baguette slices.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Simple GREEN Salad

Usually my salads are a veritable garden in a bowl. Not just lettuces, but tomatoes, onions, avocado, get the idea. Sometimes it's nice just to have a simple green salad that is clean and bright. (Sounds like I'm describing glassware, huh?) But not short on flavor. Here's one I came up with as a light accompaniment to a light pasta dish we were having.

Salad of Bibb Lettuce, Parsley and Celery Leaf
Serves two.

1 rib celery
Leaves from several ribs celery
1 head Bibb lettuce
1/2 cup parsley leaves

Slice the celery thinly, using a mandoline if you have one. Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces and put in bowl with celery slices, celery leaves and parsley. Dress with a simple vinaigrette like the one below.

Lemon Vinaigrette
Makes about 1/4 cup.

1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt to taste

Put all ingredients in small jar and shake vigorously.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Anyone Will Eat Brussels Sprouts THIS Way!

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap. If cooked correctly, they're delicious. Not the bitter mushy things our moms made....

This isn't even really a recipe...just a couple of suggestions:

  • Roasting Brussels sprouts brings out their nuttiness. Drizzle with a little olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or so. Stir or toss occasionally to avoid burning.

  • Run your trimmed sprouts through the slicing blade of your food processor. And then saute the shredded bits in a little olive oil. Same great flavor with a different texture.

  • And for the coup de grace...add a little diced bacon or prosciutto. Brown it a bit and toss with the Brussels sprouts after they've roasted. Or brown and then saute your shredded sprouts in the same pan.

Food/Wine Pairing: I know this sounds strange, but adding bacon to the Brussels sprouts makes them the perfect foil for a funky earthy Pinot Noir.