Saturday, July 19, 2014

Turkey And Sage Cannelloni In A Bechamel Sauce

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Who would have thought that less than a pound of leftover sliced turkey would turn into a dish like this? Someone, like Lindaraxa, who hates to throw food away.




After a long weekend of guests, followed by grandchildren,  I had more deli sliced turkey and ham than I cared to see go to waste.  Turkey meat from the deli, no matter how good, tends to spoil much quicker than anything else.  I find myself throwing it away, more often than not, and I hate it.  I come from a generation that was taught to eat everything on the plate and reminded, ad nauseum, of all those poor starving children in China.  Ha! and look at them now...

I often make croquettes out of leftover turkey, chicken or ham but, sometimes, I am too lazy to go through the two day process....so I came up with this.   For the filling I use the same recipe as the one for the croquettes, but slightly looser and along the same lines as the Picadillo Stuffed Manicotti or Pigs in A Blanket, as my children used to call this popular (at least in my house) recipe.

Manicotti are the large pasta tubes most often found in this country and appropriate for a filling like this.   Sometimes I like to fool my guests into thinking they are eating homemade cannelloni by using the no boil lasagna sheets from Barilla.  I just cook them for about five minutes in boiling water or until they are pliable, easy to stuff, fill and roll.  I sometimes find large pasta tubes made in Italy in my "wanderings" and snap them up by the truckload. I had a few in the pantry this time and they are what you see in the photos.




This recipe made enough for four with plenty of leftovers for lunch.  We each started with two to be polite and all of us got up for seconds...but just one more.   Count on three apiece if you are making the cannelloni using the oven ready lasagne cut in half.







Turkey And Sage Cannelloni In  Bechamel Sauce

Serves 6:

Ingredients:

1/2 to 3/4 lbs cooked turkey or chicken
1 can evaporated milk
2 TB fresh sage, chopped coarsely
6 TB flour
Salt and pepper

Filling:

3 TB butter
1 medium onion chopped
1 TB Worcestershire Sauce
2 TB dry Vermouth
1 TB grated lemon peel
Salt and pepper to taste

2 Cups Bechamel Sauce*
1/4 cup dry Vermouth
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated plus 3/4 cup for topping

1 Box Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne Or 12 Manicotti


Directions:

 Place the chopped turkey meat, the can of evaporated milk and the flour in the blender. Blend for about a minute.  Stop, use a wooden spoon to stir around add salt and pepper to taste and turn on the motor again.  Mix until completely blended. Add the sage and turn on the blender again for about 10 seconds to mix.

Saute the chopped onion in 3 TB. butter until the onion is soft.  Add the mix from the blender and stir with a wooden spoon on medium low heat until everything comes together.  Add 1 TB Worcestershire Sauce, white pepper and salt to taste.  Raise the heat to medium, continue stirring and add 2 TB Vermouth and 1 TB lemon peel. Continue stirring until the mix thickens and begins to separate from the sides.  Remove from the heat.  Let cool.

Make two cups bechamel sauce. Add 1/4 cup Vermouth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat immediately and stir for a couple of minutes.  Add a 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano.  Remove from the heat.

Butter the bottom and sides of a  Pyrex dish large enough to hold 18 cannelloni side by side.  Add about a 1/4 cup of the bechamel sauce on the bottom and spread to cover.

Cut the lasagna noodles in half.  Place 1 tsp of the filling and roll into a tube.  Place, seam side down in the Pyrex dish.  Continue with the rest of the pasta until you have eight cannelloni on each side for a total of 16.





Pour the rest of the Bechamel Sauce on top, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and dot with butter and more sage leaves.

Cook in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. or until bubbly and lightly broil, about 6 to 8 minutes. You want a golden color on top.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Slices of tomato with a balsamic vinaigrette or an arugula salad are great to serve alongside.


*Bechamel Sauce

For 2 cups

4 TB butter, unsalted
4 TB. flour
2 Cups hot milk

Melt the butter, add the flour, cook for about a minute stirring.   Add the 2 cups of hot milk, a little at a time.  Continue stirring until sauce begins to boil.  Immediately remove saucepan from the heat, set aside and let cool.

Recipe and photos Lindaraxa 



Monday, July 14, 2014

The Dahlias Are Coming, The Dahlias Are Coming!

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My daughter's newly planted dahlias are blooming and they are spectacular.  Okay, so they are not an armful and they are not exactly Carolyne Roehm's magnificent selection, but it's a start.




You are not going to believe where I got the bulbs...Tuesday Morning! and they were an afterthought after I had already checked out.  I gave them to my daughter for her cutting garden and she did the rest.




I had the most gorgeous photos of the dahlias in bloom in the garden but I erased them by mistake.  Don't ask, I was trying to clear the 516 photos in the camera card and poof!




So I took multiple photos of these three, hoping you would be impressed by my photography.




Don't tell anyone but I have a photo editing program for idiots that does a pretty good job.

The dahlias have been a godsend as the hydrangeas, which usually put on quite a how at this time of the year, are a bust.  Some blooms here and there but the frigid weather this winter took quite a toll on them and other plants, like the gardenias.  No blooms from these babies either this year, but they have come back.  Told you...You will see what I mean in a later post.

I would love to add some of the deep burgundy and purple colors as well as pink  and white next year. I love the variegated ones such as the red and white above.   Any suggestions?

All photos Lindaraxa

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dorie Greenspan's Raspberry Lemon Squares

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These squares are everything you have ever dreamed of in a lemon bar, plus more.  They were our dessert this past Fourth of July.  Unfortunately, I started a bit later than I expected and didn't let them cool enough before I cut them.  That's what you get when you are hassled and try to do too many things at once.  Baking shouldn't be one of them.



The crust is an almond crust and it is nice and firm, not soggy as in a lot of recipes.  The filling is lemony but not too and perfectly sweetened.  The addition of raspberries is the icing on the cake.  I had two boxes of blueberries in the refrigerator and toyed with the idea of making the squares, half raspberry and half blueberries to see the difference.  In the end, I decided to save the blueberries for muffins at another time. Glad I did.  Loved the raspberries!

The only thing I would change is to cut back on the final cooking time to 8 minutes instead of 10 to 13 minutes so the raspberries don't cook so much and come out firmer.  I have a convection oven which runs hot and that was perhaps my problem.  Just a thought, it's up to you, but watch that final cooking time.  If you do that, make sure you cook them previously for 35 instead of 30 minutes so the lemon filling is really cooked and set.

The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook Baking Chez Moi and was developed for Driscoll, the raspberry company.  That was what prompted me to try it.  You know what Madame Mere says.....

This is not a quick recipe to make.  It has a lot of "down time". The original tells you the cooking time is 30 minutes.  Between the crust, the filling and the final baking of the bars, it is more than 80 minutes. Plus the waiting time to let the curd and the crust cool.   Give yourself the morning to make it or, better yet, make it the night before. They are much easier to cut when they are cold.  Do make them, you will be well rewarded and asked to make them again and again.




INGREDIENTS

Lemon Curd Filling


  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (from 8-10 lemons)
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

Crust and Crumbs


  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 packages (6 ounces each) Driscoll's Raspberries (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions:

Filling

Working in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, whisk the eggs and sugar together until well blended. Whisk in the zest and lemon juice, then drop in the chunks of butter. Put the saucepan over medium heat and start whisking, taking care to work the whisk into the edges of the pan. If your whisk is too big to clean the edges, switch to a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. Whisk without stop, and, in 8 to 10 minutes, the buttery curd will thicken. It won't get terribly thick--it thickens more as it chills--but you'll notice that your whisk leaves tracks. The sign that the curd is ready is a bubble or two burbling to the surface, then popping. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and scrape the curd into a heatproof bowl. Place a piece of plastic film against the surface and refrigerate the curd until it's cold all the way through. (Packed airtight, the curd can stay in the fridge for a couple of weeks.)

When You're Ready to Bake

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to about 13 x 17 inches or so that about 2 inches hang over the edge of each side of the pan. Place the parchment paper inside the pan and butter the paper.

To Make the Crust and Crumbs

Put the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a food processor and whir until the mixture is blended. Add the almond flour and blend until smooth. Add the flour and pulse, stopping as needed to scrape the bowl, until you've worked the flour into the other ingredients and have moist, bumpy curds of dough. Reach in--if the dough holds together when you pinch it, it's ready.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead it gently to gather it together. Cut off one third of the dough, cover it and set it aside. Press the rest of the dough evenly over the bottom of the lined pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork.

Bake the crust for 15 - 18 minutes, or until it's pale golden all over. It will puff a bit and still feel soft to the touch, so judge its readiness by its color. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the crust cool to room temperature.

If you've turned off the oven, heat it to 375 degrees F again.

Scatter 1 package (1 3/4 to 2 cups) of raspberries over the crust. Stir the chilled curd to get it moving then, using a long offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the filling evenly over the berries. Pinch off small pieces of the reserved dough and scatter them over the filling - you'll have enough dough to almost completely cover the curd.

Bake the lemon squares 30 minutes, rotating the pan after about 20 minutes. Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and scatter the remaining raspberries over the crumbs, gently and lightly pressing them into the topping. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 10 to 13 minutes. The filling will puff - and it should puff all the way to the center - the lemon curd will caramelize around the edges (my favorite part) and the crumbs will be golden brown. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for at least 2 hours (and up to 6 hours) before cutting.

Use the edges of the parchment paper to carefully lift the lemon squares out of the pan and set on the counter or rack. Invert a plate over the lemon squares and turn the plate and lemon squares over and then peel away the parchment paper. Using a long, slender knife, cut the cake into 12 squares, about 3 inches on a side. Serve now or chill - the bars are delicious at room temperature, when the crust is almost as tender as the filling, and just as good chilled, when all the elements are firm but the filling melts in your mouth.

Dust with confectioners' sugar, if you'd like, just before serving.

Storing: Well wrapped, the squares will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days; wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost the squares, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Photos Lindaraxa

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Flounder Gratin With Tomatoes, Onions And Garlic Pesto

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Before I moved to northern Georgia, I used to live in Key Biscayne, Florida, a small key right off the city of Miami.  All you had to do was cross the Rickenbacker Causeway and there you were...paradise. In 1994, when I moved there from New York,  it was still a small informal community.  I used to brag about my daily uniform of kahki shorts in the summer and khaki pants in winter.  Then the wealthy Latin Americans arrived, real estate prices went up and the key changed forever.





One of the things I enjoyed the most in those days was going down to the docks and buying fresh fish off the fishing boats.  Grouper, Mahi Mahi, Snapper, local Lobster.  Some were in coolers still kicking around.  My daughter had just moved to Atlanta and missed the fresh fish terribly.  She would tell me how, in frustration,  she had started  buying  flash frozen fish from the grocery store and how good it was...or so it seemed.

Knowing how well I had trained her, I knew she wouldn't be encouraging me to try it if it were not that good.  So i decided to give it a whirl and, guess what...it was not bad...not bad at all.  Now that I am here in land locked northern Georgia, guess what?!  Lindaraxa buys these flash frozen filets of flounder at Costco and, to her, they taste divine.  Now, if you are by the coast or have an excellent fish market, by all means buy fresh.  There is nothing like it.

We have gotten to love this preparation and frankly, you would never know the difference.  Remember, there is a reason for all those marvelous French sauces.  Do get fresh herbs...that's the least you can do.





Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Ingredients Per Person:

1 ovenproof porcelain dish liberally coated with olive oil
2 flounder filets
salt and pepper to taste

Lay one filet on top of the oiled dish.

add:

half of a thinly sliced tomato, seeded and dried with a paper towel

1 ring of a sliced onion

1/2 the Garlic Herb Pesto*

Repeat the layers starting with 2nd piece of founder and ending with the other half of the garlic mix




Top with:

1 TB Panko
1 TB Grated Parmesan Cheese
Drizzle of Olive oil.





Cook in the upper left of the oven at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.  Lower to 375 and cook approximately 8 minutes until browned.




Serve with a dry French rose.


 Garlic Herb Pesto:

In a small bowl mix:

1 TB garlic paste
1 TB each chopped cilantro, lemon balm, italian parsley, basil
2TB olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon

Makes enough mix for 2 servings.

Recipe and photos Lindaraxa

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Grilled Salmon Salad With Orzo, Arugula And Roasted Peppers

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This is the first recipe I have ever posted and "adapted" from a fellow food blogger and friend.   Her name is Sam Hoffer and she publishes the  popular cooking blog, My Carolina Kitchen.   I drool over everything she posts, including the photos of her recipes, a collaboration with the best in-house photographer any food blogger could ever dream of, her husband Meakin. Moreover, I know I can trust her recipes and that is not something I often or easily say.

When I saw the original recipe for Mediterranean Salmon Salad  I knew that I had to make it, particularly since we were having grilled salmon that night.   I had plenty on hand for dinner with enough to keep for what  promised to be the queen of leftover grilled salmon recipes.  Perfect timing...my friend Sam and I are usually on the same wave length.      

The next night I asked my daughter to start the orzo but, before I knew it, she had already mixed in some of the roasted peppers we had grilled the night before and prepared the dressing.  Oh dear!  I had dreamed about this recipe all day, just the way it was.  Not wanting to hurt her feelings I decided to go with the flow.  Salmon, orzo, grilled peppers...something good had to come out of this.  And it did...as a matter of fact, it was terrific and good enough to post and file.  A big part of the success was the white balsamic dressing my daughter had come up with which went better with the roasted peppers and perfectly complimented the peppery arugula and the Kalamata olives.  Sam's had a lemon based dressing.  This had lemon balm which, incidentally, is threatening to take over the yard!

I will make the original salad next time.  Now I am anxious to see what it tastes like with lemon and practice what I preach...Don't go changing a recipe until you have tried the original first

Whether you make Sam's original recipe or my variation with roasted peppers and white balsamic, you will come out with the perfect meal for a hot summer night or a picnic.  If you try mine, play around with the measurements.  Mix the salmon and vegetables in a bowl and start adding the orzo until you come out with a ratio to your liking.  Same with the arugula.  If when you are done you feel it needs extra olives or anything else, by all means add it!






Grilled Salmon Salad With Orzo, Arugula And Roasted Peppers

Serves 6

Like Sam,   I grilled the salmon the night before after marinading it in soy sauce, ginger and sesame oil.

Ingredients:

1 lbs. cold grilled wild salmon, flaked in large pieces
4 cups cooked Orzo, room temperature
4 roasted red, yellow and orange peppers, cut in small strips
2 large scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped and seeded tomatoes
1/2 cup Kalamata olives cut in half
3 TB chopped lemon balm
3 TB chopped fresh oregano or basil
2 cups of arugula

Olive oil
White Balsamic Vinegar*

Directions:

In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients and drizzle with olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for about an hour so the flavors will meld.  Drizzle the white balsamic vinegar just before you serve.  Toss and enjoy!

 *Red balsamic vinegar will give the salad a funny color thus the use of white.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Moroccan Style Chicken Kabobs On Yellow Rice Pilaf With Raisins And Almonds

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I am in love with Ras El Hanout.  No, he is not a tall, dark and handsome Arab, although I wish it were. Ras El Hanout is an exotic and aromatic North African spice blend used in grilled meats, curries and tagines. The name is Arabic for "head of the shop" and implies the best spices the seller has to offer.

There is no definitive combination of spices in the mix.  Each shop, company or person may have its own blend which can consist of over a dozen spices. Commonly used ingredients are cardamon, clove, cinnamon, ground chili peppers, coriander, cumin, peppercorn, paprika, fenugreek and turmeric. To this mix, some spices, particular to the region, may be toasted and added to the blend.




I have been experimenting with Ras El Hanout ever since I fell in love with Yotam Ottolenghi's cooking.   I bought all three of his cookbooks and promptly  ordered a bunch of spices from Williams Sonoma.  Ras El Hanout was one of them.  I have already posted two of his recipes, here and here.  Lately,with everything that is going on in this house, cooking has been simple and I have not had a chance to dig deep into his books; but the other night I added this spice blend to the chicken kabobs we were having for dinner.  We loved it.  They were spicy, aromatic and full of flavor.  Everything you would dream about in the perfect grilled chicken.





Ras El Hanout can be ordered  on several sites on the Internet, including Amazon.  As a benchmark, I strongly recommend the blend on the Williams Sonoma website,  but have included a simple recipe below.

Before you say anything, I know soy sauce is not part of Moroccan cuisine and neither are Vidalia onions,  or tomatoes for that matter, but it works.  The world has shrunk and now everything is available everywhere.  Let's take advantage of it and bend the rules once in awhile,  when and if appropriate.   Trust me, this really works!





Accompany with  Yellow Rice Pilaf With Raisins And Almonds but substitute saffron for turmeric. 






Moroccan Style Chicken Kabobs

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs

Marinade

1 TB Ras El Hanout
4 garlic cloves mashed
juice of 1 lime or lemon
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB chopped cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil

1 Vidalia or Spanish onion
4 cherry tomatoes
1 red, yellow or orange pepper
Salt and pepper

Directions

Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.  In a bowl mix the rest of the ingredients.  Marinade the chicken for at least 1/2 hour. 

Quarter the onions and cut the peppers into 1 inch pieces.  

Skewer the chicken, tomatoes, onions and peppers, alternating.  Drizzle the chicken marinade over the kabobs.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides.





Light the grill and cook on medium high until chicken is done.  If it begins to char too much, lower the temperature and move kabobs to the back of the grill.


Optional but good:  Accompany with sour cream, mango chutney and avocado slices with oil and vinegar. Pita bread can be substituted for the rice.


Ras El Hanout

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon ground cumin\
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds\
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preparation:


In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients until combined well. Spice blend keeps in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 month.

All photos except #2 Lindaraxa
Photo #2 Williams Sonoma

Lindaraxa has not received payment for mentioning any of the products in this post..

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Father's Day Treat...Chewy Butterscotch Bars With Walnuts

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Butterscotch bars, or brownies, are one of my all time favorites.  They were a favorite of my father's who, unfortunately, died many years ago when he was only fifty two and of my husband's who was only forty two when he passed away.

Lindaraxa's family hasn't celebrated Father's Day for many years but that doesn't mean we forget those we love on this special occasion... So we bake and we grill and toast them for the few happy years they shared with us. 

This is the original recipe from Nestle's and the one I have been making all these years.  As Madame Mere taught me, you can never go wrong with the recipe in back of a product.  

If you like butterscotch, these are definitely for you.  The only suggestion I have is halve the recipe and bake in a 9 x 11 pan... that is, unless you are baking for a crowd.  Also, I use walnuts, which counterbalances the sweetness of the butterscotch better than other nuts

This is a great dessert to take on picnics or on the boat.  They are a special treat to have around when you are entertaining guests for the weekend.   Come to think of it, they are great anytime!



I know, let's get a male Westie...problem solved!



Chewy Butterscotch Bars With Brownies

Makes 4 dozen brownies  


Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 teaspoon baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 cup butter, softened 

1 3/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed 

1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

2 eggs 

1 (11 ounce) package Nestle Toll House butterscotch-flavored morsels, divided 

1 cup walnuts, chopped 



Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. 

3. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl until creamy. 

4. Beat in eggs. 

5. Gradually beat in flour mixture. 

6. Stir in 1 cup morsels, and nuts. 

7. Spread into ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. 

8. Sprinkle with remaining morsels. 

9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

10. Cool in pan on wire rack.

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