Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs

One of the food magazines that I pick up regularly is called COOK.  It has a lot of recipes with ingredients that I usually have on hand or are easy to come by at the grocery.  And the magazine has beautiful food pictures!!  The January issue has a great recipe for meatballs made with ground chicken and ricotta cheese.  With a little planning it’s a meal you can have on the table in 45 minutes, and that included me grinding my chicken breasts in an old fashioned meat grinder!  A food processor would work.  Or purchasing ground chicken (or turkey) at the grocery would be even easier.  The meatballs look a little different than what we’re accoustomed to…my husband saw them in the sauce and said “dumplings??”.  But they’re light, moist,  and have a great flavor.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground chicken

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1/2 cup panko

1 large egg yolk

3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped and divided

1/4 cup fresh basil sliced thin and divided

2 tsp kosher salt

4 T olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

28 oz of crushed tomatoes

fresh grated asiago and additional basil for serving

First things first.  If you didn’t purchase ground chicken you’ll need to do that.  Grind your chicken.  With the meat slightly frozen, cube it and grind.  I used chicken breast but I don’t see why you couldn’t use boneless leg or thigh meat.

Preheat your oven to 400.

In a medium bowl stir together chicken, ricotta, panko, egg yolk, half the garlic, half the basil, and 1 tsp salt.  Mix until well combined.

Use a 1/4 cup spring-loading scoop (I call it a cookie scoop) or a teaspoon and shape into 16 meatballs.  Place in a foil lined pan.  Drizzle with 2 T of olive oil.  Bake for 12 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking get your sauce started.  In a heavy skillet, over medium heat, add remaining 2 T of olive oil and remaining garlic.  Cook for 1 minute and add the wine. Cook until the wine is reduced by half, 3-5 minutes.   Add the tomatoes, remaining basil and 1 tsp salt.  Bring to a simmer.

Once the meatballs are done add them to the sauce including any pan juices.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with fresh grated asiago and garnish with additional basil if desired.  I served mine over a simple, creamy polenta.  It would also be good with angel hair or fettuccine noodles or served with spaghetti squash.

NOTE:  I made only slight modifications to the recipe in COOK.  I used fresh basil instead of fresh rosemary.  One, I didn’t have any fresh rosemary and two, basil just sounded better to me in this recipe.  I also used shredded asiago for serving rather than Parmesan.  I have a slight preference for asiago but either would be good.

My friend Jane made this recipe before I did and she gave it high marks so I was confident I would like it.  However, when you’re mixing the meat and cheese you may be a little skeptical about how its all going to come together.  But it does!

I have not made this with ground turkey but I cant imagine that it wouldn’t work.  To me, when you’re cooking, a recipe is a guideline and you’ll like it best when you take your personal tastes and preferences into account.

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Baked Beans

For Christmas this year my daughter gave me Carla Hall’s Soul Food Cookbook.  I have loved Carla Hall since I first saw her on Top Chef and she was my favorite part of the Chew.  Her cookbook is great.  The recipes are not complicated and the dishes are all comfort foods.  Like the recipe I found for Slow Cooker Baked Beans.  It’s been a long time since I made real, from scratch, baked beans.  Where you have to let the beans soak overnight in cold salt water.  Bushes beans with lots of add ins like bacon and ground beef and onions, etc.  have been my fall back.  Don’t get me wrong.  Those are very good!  But real baked beans that have cooked all day are true comfort food.

When we were kids my mother would sometimes make baked beans and homemade bread and that would be our Saturday supper.   It wasn’t a side dish.  It was supper.  We didn’t have crock pots back then so the beans cooked in a big roaster in the oven for the better part of the day.  Baked beans with warm bread slathered in butter.  A good memory.  I also remember having homemade baked beans for hot lunch at school.  Back in the day they didn’t have stations in the school cafeteria where you could get pizza or visit a salad bar or put toppings on your hot dog or hamburger.  You had lunch ladies in aprons and hair nets, who also cooked the food, ladle it on your plate and that’s what you ate.  And we liked the food.  At least I remember liking the food.

My dad obviously loved beans because they were a “camp” staple.  Eaten at breakfast with eggs and potatoes and meat.  Sometimes at supper with hot dogs or brats.  I think Van de kamps beans were a camp favorite.

Fun bean facts:  Navy beans got their name because they were a staple food of the US Navy in the early 20th century.  They are a good, inexpensive, virtually fat free source of protein, fiber and vitamin B1, copper and manganese.  They are one of 13,000 species of the family of legumes or plants that produce edible pods.

So…yesterday I made Carla Hall’s beans with a slight modification.  I added bacon.  Because everything is better with bacon.

4 slices of thick cut bacon diced

2 pounds of dried northern beans

1 large onion finely chopped

1 jalapeño chili seeded and minced

2-3 cloves of garlic thin sliced

1 T smoked paprika

1 T Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup catsup

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses (I added an extra 1/4 cup of molasses)

3 T yellow mustard

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

This is the part that requires some planning ahead.  Stir 3 T of kosher salt into 3 quarts of water until the salt dissolves.  Add the beans, cover, and soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Drain the beans and transfer them to a 6 quart slow cooker.  Mince the jalapeño, slice the garlic and dice the onion.

In a heavy skillet cook the bacon until most of the fat is rendered.  Add the onions, jalapeño, and garlic.  Stir occasionally over medium heat until the onions are translucent.  About 5 minutes.

Stir in the smoked paprika, 2 tsp of salt and fresh ground pepper.    Add the Worcestershire sauce, catsup, brown sugar,  molasses, and mustard.  Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to bubble.

Pour the sauce over the beans and add enough water (about 5 cups) to cover the beans by 2 inches.

Cover the cooker and cook on low until the beans are tender, 6 to 8 hours.  Stir once or twice as they are cooking.  Serve up while they’re hot and enjoy.  Supper.  Corn bread and beans.

I was messaging with a friend last night before we ate, bragging a little about how good these beans were smelling, and he told me his wife was cooking black-eyed peas and corn bread for their dinner.  Unbeknownst to me, in the South, black-eyed peas, cowpeas, and beans, pork, and cornbread are symbolic foods served on New Year’s Day.  They are considered “lucky” foods and, when eaten on New Year’s Day, are thought to bring a year of prosperity.  The peas or beans are symbolic of pennies or coins.  You’ll want to eat 365 of them.  Corn bread, being the color of gold, represents wealth.  The peas or beans and corn bread are supposed to be served with kale, collard, mustard or turnip greens which are the color of American currency and are supposed to add more wealth.  There is a dish called Hoppin John which is a combination of rice, beans, greens and bacon.  If you serve the left overs the next day its called Skippin Jenny and demonstrates one’s frugality.  For the bad rap some people give beans I think after last night’s dinner 2019 will be a year of prosperity.

NOTE:  I am quite certain my mother’s baked bean recipe did not include smoked paprika or a jalapeño.  Just as I modified Carla Hall’s recipe a bit by adding bacon and a little extra molasses, feel free to customize this recipe to your own tastes.  The beans would make a great vegetarian dish without the bacon and would be a great side dish with roast pork or sausage.

Fish Stew (Kalamojakka)

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I made a Finnish feast for all of us with a lot of help from my daughter and her boyfriend.   For appetizers we had homemade Finnish cheese (which took us the better part of a day to make), pickled herring, smoked lake trout from the UP of Michigan, pickled beets, Finn Crisp and an awesome smoked white fish pate that my friend made for us.

For dinner we had meatballs (a recipe with ground beef, fresh bead crumbs, heavy cream, allspice, onion and a milk gravy), baked ring bologna (makkara) which is apparently a Finnish staple, potato patties with bacon and onion fried in bacon grease, green beans, sliced tomatoes, limpu bread and Kalamojakka.

For dessert we had rice pudding with blueberry soup and my mummu’s orange cake.  We lost my Dad January 1st of this year.  This dinner was the perfect tribute and he would have enjoyed every bite!

The star of our dinner was the Kalamojakka.  I think it was almost everyone’s favorite thing.  Followed closely by the orange cake which I blogged recently.  We actually made the mojakka the night before and slowly re-heated it for our dinner.  Like most soups, the flavors improved as all of the ingredients came together.  This was one of my Dad’s favorite meals and one I remember my mummu making very often.   My Dad and my grandpa were both avid fishermen so we always had fresh lake fish at our house.  Trout, coho, walleye, perch.  And because nothing ever went to waste, the Kalamojakka was made using all of the fish including the heads.  My grandpa would eat the meat from the cheeks.  It was probably the tastiest bit!

Ingredients:

1 to 1 1/2 pounds of cleaned fish (such as trout, pike or perch)

2 tsp of salt

2 medium onions, chopped

1-2 tsp of fresh dill weed

4 cups of water

4-5 russet potatoes peeled and diced

2 cups whole milk

4 T butter

Trim the tail and fins from the fish and slice into steaks.  Put the fish in a dutch oven and add the salt, one of the diced onions, dillweed and four cups of water.

Bring to the boiling point and simmer (without boiling) until the fish flakes when pierced with a fork but does not fall apart.

Remove the fish to a platter and strain and reserve the stock.  Return the stock to the dutch oven, add the diced potatoes and the other diced onion and cook in the stock until the potatoes are tender.  While the potatoes and onion are cooking and once the fish has cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and set the fish aside.

Once the potatoes are tender add 2 cups of milk and the fish to the potatoes and stock in the dutch oven.  Simmer slowly for about 20 minutes making sure not to boil.  Add the butter and garnish with more fresh dill and salt to taste.

Ladle into bowls and enjoy with some good rye bread.  This would be the perfect time to wear your “Winner, Winner Kalamojakka Dinner shirt!!!

I purchased a loaf of limpu from the Trenary Home Bakery when I was in the UP several weeks ago and saved it for just this occasional.  I even managed to find butter from Finland.

NOTE:  This soup uses no thickening agent like cornstarch or flour so you will find that while the taste resembles chowder it is a lot brothier.   Also, when my mummu and my Dad made it, they would never had added the dill.  In fact, my Dad would have asked me “what is the green stuff in the mojakka?”

You definitely do not have to be Finnish to enjoy this soup.  And, if using the heads while making the broth makes you uncomfortable, by all means toss them.  However, I think the stock is richer when you’ve cooked the fish with the bones and the skin.

Many of the recipes for our Finnish Dinner were adapted from my favorite Finnish Cookbook.

 

Orange Cake

Our Thanksgiving tradition includes a traditional dinner on Thursday with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes and rutabaga…and a “theme” dinner on Saturday with my brother Bob and his family.  Our theme Saturdays have typically been eithnic and this year we are doing Finnish food.  Finnish food in honor of my Dad who passed away on New Years Day.  Finnish food to honor our heritage.  I have fond memories of an orange cake that my mummu used to make and I recently found her recipe.  It was written in Finnish.  Well, some Finnish and some Finglish.  I was able to decipher all the ingredients and measurements (pretty proud of that) but I struggled with the directions.  I asked for help from my Finnish Food and Culture site on facebook and they came to my rescue.  Today I did a test run for Saturday’s dinner.

Ingredients:

1 orange (orenssi)

1 cup raisins (rusinaita)

1 cup sugar (sokeri)

2 eggs (munaa)

1/2 cup butter (voita) or lard

3/4 cup of buttermilk (kirnupiimaa)

1 teaspoon baking soda (suuta)

2 cups flour (jauhaja)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Juice the orange and set the juice aside.

Grind the orange peel and the raisins. This was my mummu’s grinder.  Then my dads.  And now it’s mine.  Just trying to make this orange cake authentic!

Cream together the sugar, butter, orange rind and raisins.  Add well beaten eggs.  Also my mummu’s mixer.

Sift together flour and baking soda.  Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternating with the buttermilk.

The batter will be quite thick.  Spread the batter in a greased 8×8 square pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.  While the cake is cooling combine 1/2 cup of sugar and the juice from the orange.  Bring to a boil and pour over the slightly cooled cake.

Serve the cake as is or with a dollop of whipped cream.  This cake brought back wonderful memories.  And it will be a perfect addition to our Finnish Saturday.

NOTE:  You can grind the raisins and orange peel in your food processor and you can beat your eggs with a whisk.  I was trying to make this the way my grandmother did and she didn’t have my modern appliances.

Don’t check my Finnish.  Remember.  This was written in Finnish AND Finglish.

Double Chocolate Cake

When I’m scrolling through Facebook I see a lot of people posting recipes with pictures that look mouth watering.  So I ask, “have you made that?”  The most frequent response I get is, “no, but I’d like to.”  And then I’m a little leery.  What if someone accidentally left out a key ingredient?   We’ve all seen those pictures of Pinterest fails…recipes or projects that look easy and amazing and when someone attempts to replicate them they bear little resemblance to the original picture.  We had special friends coming for the weekend and a belated birthday to celebrate so when I saw this picture and recipe for a chocolate cake (that the person who posted had not yet made) I decided to give it a try anyway.  I can’t eat chocolate but everyone LOVED the cake and the icing so my efforts were worth the risk.  And I’ll make it again.  The other good thing about this particular recipe is that it made an 8”x8” cake which was the perfect size.

Ingredients:

1 cup AP flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup boiling coffee

Preheat the oven to 325.

Whisk together the dry ingredients.

Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minute.

Gently stir in the boiling coffee.  The batter will be thin.  Pour into an 8”x8” pan that has been greased and floured.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Icing:

1 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

This was the intriguing part.  To me.  I’ve never made an icing like this!  Melt the chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.  Once the chips are melted stir in the sour cream and vanilla.  Give it a good hard stir for a creamy consistency.

Viola!  You have icing that sets up beautifully.  Almost the consistency of fudge.  I inverted the cake and put it on a plate to ice but you could do it right in the pan.

I garnished the cake with fresh raspberries.  Slice and enjoy!

NOTE:  The cake is super moist.  I put it in the freezer for awhile prior to icing it…it is much easier to frost.  The recipe called for boiling water (or coffee) and I chose to use coffee.

I’m not sure whether this recipe would work doubled and baked in a 9×13 pan or as two layers.  Some recipes work that way, others don’t.

Zucchini Bread with Walnuts and Golden Raisins

Zucchini.  The vegetable that people are always giving away after it has inexplicitly multiplied and grown to ginormous proportions in their gardens.  One can only make so many zoodles and side dishes with tomatoes and onions and zucchini boats stuffed with meat and cheese.  But everyone loves zucchini bread and cake and other sweets.  Zucchini makes for very moist bread and cake and no longer even tastes like a vegetable.  Not even a little bit.  That’s probably the appeal to many people.  This bread is an easy quick bread that is at least a little healthy.  The inclusion of nuts and raisins,  ground flax seed, and, of course squash, bolsters that claim.  And cinnamon.  Cinnamon is very healthy!  It is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.  You’ll feel so good after you have a slice or two of this tasty bread.

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 T vanilla

3 cups AP flour

1/2 cup ground flax seed (or wheat germ)

1 tsp nutmeg

1 T cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup walnuts chopped

1 cup golden raisins

Preheat your oven to 325.

Beat white and brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla together.

Sift together flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt.

Add raisins, nuts, and flaxseed.

Add shredded zucchini and stir until well combined.

Grease 2 loaf pans or 6 small loaf pans.  Use parchment paper if you’d like.  Divide batter evenly.

Bake for 40-60 minutes depending on the size of the pans,  Check for doneness using a tooth pick or cake tester after 40 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Slice and enjoy!!

NOTE:  Zucchini bread freezes well.  If it lasts that long.  If you prefer you can use dried cherries or pecans.  A little different flavor but it’s all good.

Corn and Shrimp Soup

One of my favorite cooking magazines is Cuisine At Home.  My friend Jane subscribes and I got a gift subscription for my daughter.  There was a recipe in the August 2018 issue for Corn and Shrimp Soup and all three of us gravitated to page 40 and made that soup within a weeks time.  We each interpreted the recipe a little differently which really is what I think cooking is all about.  I consider recipes guides.  Sometimes you have all the ingredients on hand and sometimes you have to punt.  Sometimes there is an herb or spice recommended that you don’t care for (or don’t have) so you substitute. My daughter didn’t have shrimp in the shell so she used chicken broth and omitted the dairy.  My friend also omitted the dairy.  None of us used the husks to make the broth.  I added parsley and green onion.   All three of us got an amazing pot of soup.

Ingredients:

4 ears of corn (shucked and kernels cut from the cobs)

Save the cobs for sure, the husks if you like

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (peeled, deveined, and diced)

Save the shells

7 cups of water

3 fresh or dried bay leaves

3 sprigs of thyme (I used dried)

1 T black peppercorns

3 T butter

1 1/2 cups diced onion

3/4 cup diced celery

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 T AP flour

1 cup half and half

1 T white wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme (I used parsley and green onion)

Peel, devein and dice the shrimp.  (This is the worst part!)

Put the shells in a large dutch oven.  Shuck the corn and cut it off the cob.

Add the cobs to the dutch oven along with the shrimp peels.

Add 7 cups of water, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes or more.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids.  Pour the stock back into the dutch oven and, over high heat, reduce to 3 cups.

While the stock is reducing purée about half of the corn kernels in a food processsor until as smooth as possible.

Dice the onion  and celery.  Set the broth aside and melt 3 T of butter in the dutch oven over medium heat until foamy.  Sweat the onions and celery and cayenne covered until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.  Stir in stock and puréed corn.  Bring to a simmer.

Stir in half and half just until heated through.  Then stir in shrimp and remaining corn kernels and cook until shrimp is cooked an opaque, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in vinegar and minced thyme.  (I substituted parsley and green onion).

Add some croutons and a little shredded cheese of your choosing if you’d like.  Enjoy!  I will definately be making this again.

NOTE: Like I mentioned earlier, if your shrimp has already been peeled and deveined you can substitute chicken broth or Better than Boullion has a seafood base that would work.  I can’t speak to the flavor that would be brought out of simmering the corn husks as directed in the original recipe because I did not do that.  And I probably will not do that in the future.  The cobs do, however, add flavor to the broth.

If you’d like you could also add some small diced potato or carrots to the soup.  I would add those when sweating the celery and onion making sure they are a small dice so the vegetables cook evenly.

This soup, like many others, tastes best the second day.  The flavors seem to marry and intensify.

A couple years ago I made a pot of potato soup that I thought was blah.  I am blessed to have a professionally trained chef in our family so I called and asked him how to fix it.  He said to add a hit of vinegar to kick up the flavor and it worked.  This recipe called for finishing with a little white wine vinegar but now I almost always add that to my other soup recipes.

 

 

Saltine Cracker Pie Crust

When we were kids I remember my mom making a mock apple pie with saltine crackers that we swore tasted just like apple pie.  I wonder if I would still think so.  Browsing the internet recently for dessert recipes I came across a recipe for pie crust made with saltine crackers.  I’ve made plenty of  graham cracker pie crusts but this was intriguing.  I’m a fan of sweet and salty so this just seemed like a natural.  I’ll try anything once.  Glad that I did.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers

1/2 cup butter melted

1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.

The preparation part was a little tricky when it came to consistency.  The instructions warned against turning the crackers to dust.  I pulsed them a few times in the food processor along with the sugar.  I poured the crushed, slightly chunky but not powdered, crackers into the melter butter and mixed them the best I could.  They were not holding together like I thought they should so I dumped them, butter and all, into the food processor and gave them a couple more pulses.  I pressed them into the bottom and sides of a 9” pie plate.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool slightly.

While the saltine crust was cooling I made up my recipe for key lime pie except I used regular limes and lemons.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325.

Ingredients:

4 large egg yolks

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup fresh squeezed citrus (lemon, lime or a combination)

1 T lemon or lime zest

Whisk together all of the filling ingredients making sure they’re thoroughly combined and pour into the slightly cooled pie shell.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Cool completel on a wire rack.

I like adding a berry topping.

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)

1/2 cup water

1 T lemon or lime juice

3 T sugar

1 T cornstarch

Stir together water, sugar, cornstarch, citrus juice and 1 cup of the berries.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves completely and berries burst and soften.  Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 cups of berries.  Allow the berry topping to cool completely and pour over the filling.  I used blueberries and strawberries.

Refrigerate at least a couple of hours or overnight prior to slicing.  Serve with a dollop of whipped sweet cream.

I will definitely make the saltine crust again.  It was a perfect contrast to the sweetness of the pie.  And I’m sure this would be excellent with a chocolate cream filling or a banana or coconut cream,

NOTE:  You might want to play around a little with the consistency.  Next time I will pulse my crackers and sugar a little longer and add the butter while the crumbs are still in the food processor.  This crust would also work well in a springform or tart pan.  Enjoy!

The Golden Triangle

My friend Jane and I were recently in Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  We went to a farm to table restaurant there that we had visited before called the Marq.  They have excellent food and some very creative cocktails.  One of which was called the Golden Triangle.  I am a fan of gin drinks and drinks that are not sweet so I knew I would enjoy the combination of gin and ginger in the Golden Triangle.  Jane and I both ordered one and we loved it!  I wrote down all of the ingredients from their menu and when we got home we set out to search for the ingredients.  Since we live in a rural area it is a often difficult to find unusual ingredients.  After visiting several liquor stores we finally found everything.  The most difficult ingredient for us to find was the Chartreuse which is a French liqueur made by Carthusian Monks of La Grande Chartreuse near Grenoble France.  It’s made from 130 Alpine herbs (who knew) according to an ancient formula dating back to 1605.  According to the bottle, the secret method of preparation is shared by three Carthusian brothers and is protected by vows of silence.  Whoa!  I also did not know that it is the only liqueur to have a color named after it.  According to the label it has a “totally  unexpected, remarkably beguiling, unique flavor.”  My friend and I both had to take a sip out of the bottle immediately after we purchased it…no worry about germs…it’s 110 proof.  Our facial expressions certainly attested to the taste description of unexpected and unique and perhaps even beguiling.  This is not a liqueur that I would drink by itself save for that sip in the liquor store parking lot.

The other ingredient, Domaine de Canton,  is not nearly as sexy or exotic.  While the liquor stores we visited didn’t carry it (and after being told by a liquor distributor that was in one store that it would be extremely difficult to find and we might have to special order it) we found it on the shelf in our local Meijer store.  This is a ginger flavored liqueur made in France since 2007.  Prior to that it was made in China from 1992-1997.  This liqueur is 56 proof.  It contains syrup made from crystallized Chinese baby ginger, orange blossom honey, and vanilla.

Finally, this drink needs simple syrup infused with ginger.  Which is so tasty I need to find something else to use it on or in.

The glasses are rimmed in a combination of salt and gochugaru.  Coincidentally, before even having our cocktail at the Marq, I had purchased gochugaru at the Spice Merchant in Marquette to use in another recipe.  So here we go.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz of good gin

1/2 oz domaine de canton

1/4 oz chartreuse

1 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz ginger simple syrup

salt and gochugaru

Combine all of the ingredients and ice in a shaker and shake, shake, shake!  Pour into cocktail glasses rimmed in the salt and gochugaru and enjoy!  My husband, who claims to not like gin or ginger, enjoyed one of the cocktails and said it was very refreshing!

Thanks to the bartender at the Marq who very graciously gave us the recipe!  Just one more reason to frequent the Marq when we’re in Marquette next!!  And thanks to the salesman at the Marquette Spice Merchant who went into the back room and found the gochugaru for me.

NOTE:  To make the ginger infused simple syrup combine 2 cups of sugar and two cups of water.  Bring to a simmer and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.  Thinly slice 8 oz of ginger and bring the syrup back up to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow it to steep for at least 30 minutes.

 

Zucchini “Pasta” Salad

One of my favorite cooking magazines is Cuisine at Home; this recipe was in the June 2018 issue.  There are a lot of good recipes and usually the ingredients are things you’d have in your pantry or things that are readily available at the grocery.  Not always.  But usually.  Recently I was on a mission looking for furikake for a salmon poke bowl and  gochujang for a barbeque sauce.  I found gochujang but no luck with furikake.  It’s always a challenge when you have to google the ingredients because you have no clue what they are.  But neither furikake or gochujang  are relevant to this recipe so it’s all good.  It’s fortunate that I’m married to someone who is always willing to try new things.  It makes experimenting with new recipes and mystery ingredients a lot more enjoyable.

Some time ago I purchased a spiralizer which is essential for preparing this dish.  Plus it’s just fun to use!

If you’re not inclined to purchase this kitchen toy I have noticed that spiralized vegetable are now available in the produce sections of large supermarkets so you may be able to pick up zucchini that has already been spiralized.    It just won’t be as much fun.

Friday night we had a vegetarian meal and this zucchini (zoodle) pasta salad was on the menu.  It’s easy and fast to prepare.

Ingredients:

3-4 zucchini spiralized

1 T kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp minced lemon zest

3 T fresh lemon juice

3 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T minced fresh garlic

1 1/2 tsp honey

1 cup torn basil leaves

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

grated pecorino cheese

Toss the spiralized zucchini with 1 T kosher salt in a strainer set over a bowl or plate.  Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes.

Rinse the zucchini zoodles and dry in a salad spinner.

Whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and honey for the dressing.  Toast the pine nuts.

Toss the zoodles, pine nuts, and fresh basil together along with the dressing.  Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy.

This was the first time I’ve made this salad.  I think substituting toasted walnuts or pecans for the pine nuts would be good.  As well as the addition of sliced strawberries or cherry tomatoes which would add color and another layer of flavor.  As always I believe recipes are meant to be personalized.

NOTE:  Salting and straining vegetables like eggplant and zucchini help to remove some of the excess water.  You just need to be sure to rinse them.  Spiralized veggies like zucchini can also substitute for pasta in recipes if you’re counting calories.