Author: Erin

Orzo Pasta Salad

DSC_0056I spent the first 10 years of my life steadfastly avoiding beans because of that stupid rhyme from when we were all kids. I spent the next 15 avoiding beans because I genuinely couldn’t handle the texture. But I’ve learned that if I disguise it in enough other textures, I’m on board.

Dice 1/2 of a red onion and marinate in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. While that’s marinating, cook 1 cup of orzo according to package directions. Rinse. Add to red onion mixture. Drain and rinse two cans of pinto beans, then add to mixture. Add 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 peeled, seeded and diced English cucumber, 1/2 cup of quartered cherry tomatoes, the zest of one small lemon, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, and 1/2 cup of kalamata olives (optional). Mix all this together. Finally, fold in one cup of crumbled feta.

Serve over spinach and/or arugula if you need more green in this dish. Serve with shredded chicken if you don’t partake in Meatless Mondays!

 

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Crabby Fries

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Slice up two clean potatoes and toss lightly in a teaspoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Begin to air fry at 400 until crisp. This will depend in part on your frier. Move the fries about in the basket every so often to keep the air circulating around the fries and crisping them. If you don’t have an air frier, lay the oiled potato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and cumin. Bake at 400 for approximately 35 minutes. Check on them often as cooking time will vary.

In a blender, combine 1 room temperature egg with 1 tablespoon minced garlic. With the motor running, stream in 1 1/2 cups fruit olive oil then 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Once thoroughly combined, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 ground pepper and pulse for about ten seconds. Listen, we never registered for a blender because we already have a food processor and it seemed silly to have a large counter top appliance that does what our food processor does. I use our immersion blender to make this aoili and it works just as well.

In a small bowl, combine a drained can of crab meat with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few pinches Old Bay seasoning.

When your fries are cooked, squeeze garlic aoili over them, then scoop crab mixture over them. Top with finely chopped green onions. Eat hot.

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Savory or Sweet Ricotta Pizza

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Pizza dough:

Combine 3 3/4 cup bread flour (you can use all-purpose if you don’t keep bread flour on hand), 1 teaspoon honey, 1 packet instant dry yeast, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in bowl of a stand mixer. With mixer going, stream in 1 1/2 cups warm but not steaming water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Your dough should combine into a solid ball. If it looks too dry, add an additional tablespoon of water. Dump out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead gently. Grease large bowl with olive oil, place dough inside. Cover with wrap, let sit in a warm place for 1 hour. If it’s never warm where you are, place it on a heating pad set to warm. Makes two 12-14″ crusts.

While the dough is proofing, thinly slice one fennel bulb and saute in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium for 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Ricotta topping:

Combine one container of ricotta cheese (approximately 1.5 cups) with the zest of one small lemon, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

When ready, roll your dough out into two crusts and top with the ricotta mixture. Add fresh arugula, dried tarragon, sauteed fennel, and sliced peppadew peppers. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and a bit of pepper and a light pass of Parmesan. Cook at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

If you don’t keep arugula or fennel on hand (or don’t like them), omit the red pepper flakes and Parmesan. Instead, top with shaved Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions and pomegranate seeds; serve with a squeeze of honey over your slice.

 

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Blistered Carrots with Labneh

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Wash a bunch of carrots. I used rainbow carrots but regular orange ones are great. Don’t peel them. If you find that your carrots have a big size difference, consider slicing the largest ones in halves or in quarters. Preheat your oven to 450. Or, if you’re making three ingredient roast chicken, wait until the last fifteen minutes of your cook time to begin cooking your carrots.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, drop your carrots in and allow them to cook about a minute before flipping them and searing on the other side. Then, place skillet into the oven and cook at 450 for 20 minutes. If you’ve done the math and realized that this will take you past the time your chicken will be cooked, that’s on purpose. Your chicken needs time to rest before you carve it, giving you time to finish your carrots.

Remove your carrots from the oven and plate. Spread a quarter cup of labneh over them, and drizzle your favorite olive oil + herb sauce. For some of you, this will be pesto. I went with yogurt dip seasoning (dried basil, dried mint, taragon, garlic flakes, onion flakes, pepper and salt) rehydrated in a bit of olive oil. If you have a pine nut sensitivity, blend together 1/3 cup of fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup olive oil, two cloves of garlic and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt together and use that to top your labneh.

Serve hot. Serves two.

If you cant find labneh, you should know that it’s basically just strained Greek yogurt. You can use regular Greek yogurt or strain it yourself in some cheese cloth.

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Let Them Eat Almond Cake

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Cream 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar together. Add 3 egg yolks (reserve the egg whites, you’re using them, too!) and beat until mixture is pale and fluffy. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3/4 teaspoon almond extract, and the zest of one lemon (avoid the pith, it’s bitter and won’t taste good in your cake). Stir until combined. Fold in 1 cup almond meal, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup cake flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder.

In a separate dry bowl, whip the three egg whites until they begin to get frothy. When they begin to get frothy, add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. When you have stiff peaks, fold egg whites into the almond and flour mixture. Pour into a greased cake pan and bake 30 minutes at 350. Remove and let cool on wire baking rack for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pan.

While cake is cooling, heat juice of three lemons and 1 tablespoon lavender flowers. Let steep 5 minutes, then strain to remove the flowers. Add in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and stir to combine. Pour glaze over the cooled cake. Press lavender flowers in while the glaze is warm to decorate if you’re artsy. Otherwise, let cool about 10 minutes after the glaze is applied and serve.

Some notes: if using a stand mixer, whip the egg whites on high. Everything you read on the internet will tell you to whip them at a low to medium speed. And on a stand mixer, this will get you nowhere. With a handheld mixer, start at medium and if you don’t see progress, increase the speed slowly. You should see serious progress in just a couple of minutes and have achieved stiff peaks in about five minutes. If you’re considering whipping the egg whites by hand, good luck and God speed.

Different flavor options:

  • Instead of lavender, steep fresh basil leaves in the hot lemon juice.
  • Substitute orange zest in for lemon zest and fresh squeezed orange juice for the lemon juice. Omit the lavender and instead whisk a teaspoon of vanilla extract into the warm orange juice and powdered sugar. In the alternate, throw some pineapple chunks into the warm orange juice in place of the lavender.
  • Substitute grapefruit zest in for lemon zest, and grapefruit juice and fresh mint for the lemon and lavender.

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Easy Chicken

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After cleaning a whole chicken, thoroughly dry with paper towels. Inside and out. I know, it’s icky. You can do it. On occasion, you’ll find a bit of a quill left in the skin. It’s easiest to grasp them using a paper towel so you have enough traction to pull it out.

A lot of recipes will call for lemons or butter. We’re going to avoid those so the chicken can get nice and crispy! And who doesn’t love a recipe that calls for just three ingredients?

I like to let the chicken come to temperature and dry one more time. Add salt and dried thyme into the cavity and place the chicken in a pan. You don’t want the pan to be so large that your chicken is floating out in space. I like to use our trusty Dutch oven. Then truss the chicken. This just means you’re going to use a bit of baker’s or butcher’s twine to tie the chicken legs together to cover a portion of the breast, and it helps the chicken stay juicy.

After trussing the chicken, tuck the wings as close to the body as you can manage. You don’t want them to get too dry, either. Lightly sprinkle dried thyme over the chicken. Now, for the magic. With a heavy hand, salt the chicken with kosher salt. Add a second pass. That salt is going to be where your flavor comes in.

Bake at 450 for an hour. Double check the internal temperature of the breast meat- it needs to be at least 165. Let cool for ten minutes, carve, and serve. Tastes great with a whole grain mustard or Dijon for dipping. Pairs really well with blistered carrots with labneh.

Be sure to save the bones and scraps for chicken stock!

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*the link to the Dutch oven is an affiliate link; it doesn’t increase your price, but a portion of the proceeds come back to me.

Spicy Sauce and Fish

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We were fortunate enough to catch Sprouts in an amazing sale where the wild caught salmon was a dollar per pound less than the farm raised and I snapped up two pounds because you can always make something delicious with salmon. I like this chimichurri with it because the lime juice brings the flavors to life and the jalapeno keeps things interesting. If you’re averse to spicy food, it’s worth noting that once you’ve removed those seeds most of the bite is taken out of the jalapeno. If you’re really averse to spicy food, I’d suggest starting with just one jalapeno with seeds and stem removed and give it a taste test to see if you can handle more. You can always blend the second jalapeno in piece by piece. I also like this sauce because, on days when Graham and I can’t agree on a protein, it tastes just as delicious on his steak as it does on my salmon.

In a blender or food processor, combine 1 bunch of parsley leaves, large stems removed, 2 jalapenos with stem and seeds removed, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 4 cloves garlic, 1-2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt, 3 green onions, the juice of two limes and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Blend until a nice sauce forms. Give it a taste before you remove it to a serving container. Sometimes it needs a bit more salt, though it does depend on how heavily you salt your fish or other protein. It tastes good on a lot of things.

In a cast iron skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Place two fillets of salted and peppered salmon skin side down into the hot oil and cook approximately 5 minutes. Avoid the temptation to fiddle with the fish as it cooks. Flip and cook approximately 5 minutes more. Remove to plates and top with chimichurri sauce.

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