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Appetizers

Smokey Croque Monsieur

September 15, 2021

Last week I took out the last of our cheese bread from Riley’s Market that I bought on our last trip to Pemaquid. This bread is legendary. It is the perfect combination of fluffy white bread that is almost like challah or brioche, and it gets craggy (is that a word?) when you cut into it, and when the little craggy bits sticking out get toasted they yield the perfect crunchy bite with the softness of the doughy bread. On top of that, there is sharp cheddar cheese swirled throughout the bread. The little spots melt a bit when they are toasted, and well you all know how good melted cheese is. I might just have to work on a recipe for this bread. In the mean time, I thought about what I could do with this beauty.

One of my favorite things to do with challah is to make french toast (especially with egg nog at the holidays – my husbands favorite breakfast!) so I thought about making a savory french toast which led to croque monsieurs.

I wanted to put a twist on it, and when I saw smoked gruyere at the store, I knew it would match so well with smokey ham.

Guess what?

It really did. These were delicious – I know all croque monsieurs are, with their wonderful mix of textures and creaminess and toasted bread and you can’t go wrong with the original. But these had their own character and made me think this would also be delicious with smoked gouda or any smoked cheese, and those might even be easier to find, so don’t hesitate if you go that route.

These sandwiches are very easy to make, with a basic béchamel sauce the only ‘cooking’ necessary. It comes together so easily, and the melted cheese in it just adds to the smokey creaminess.

It is just basic assembly after that, and it is one of those dishes that is very simple but the combination makes something magical. The hit from the Dijon mustard is also the best kick and makes these mouthwatering.

Don’t worry if you can’t find cheese bread – these ingredients will be delicious with any white bread. And there will be plenty of cheese either way.

This hot and gooey sandwich came out of the oven and my family was hovering around it, waiting to dive in. It is easy enough for a weeknight dinner but fancy enough for a special meal too. They are great for parties with tiny bread or cut into fourths.

I hope you try these and love them! Or put your own spin on it – use smoked turkey, or add your favorite veg like spinach or kimchi so that it feels like a reuben. Or just stick with the classic which is classic for a reason.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Smokey Croque Monsieur

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups hot milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch nutmeg

12 ounces Smoked Gruyere or Smoked Gouda, grated (5 cups)

(Note: the original calls for ½ cup parmesan but I omitted to keep it smoked)

16 slices white sandwich bread

Dijon mustard

8 ounces baked or black forest ham, sliced but not paper thin

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter/flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated smoked Gruyere. (Note: if making the original add the ½ cup parmesan).
  3. To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
  4. Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

 

 

Gazpacho with Crab + Avocado

August 28, 2021

imageIs there anything more refreshing on a hot day then Gazpacho? It is one of my all time favorite summer dishes. It is like drinking your salad – so filling and delicious, and I love it with the tang of vinegar and kick from jalapeño. I was reading about this easy version this morning from Cup of Jo and I know I’ll be making it soon, but I love this recipe.

When we visited Paris a few years ago, it was a 100 degrees, and we ate lunch at a bistro where I saw it on a chalk board menu served with vegetable tartar on top. It was so refreshing – ice cold, and the tartar made of just cucumbers, onions and zucchini was so different (and so precisely chopped! The woman who waited on us came up and asked how I liked it and I am guessing she made it herself).

Her dish made me think about adding something on top, and I wanted to add a protein to make it a meal. I adore the combination of crab and avocado, and I was craving them tossed in lemon. So I made a mixture tossed in a quick vinaigrette out of lemon, olive oil, and mustard. The result was…amazing! Perfect for lunch or as an appetizer. (You could even put them in little glasses for a party).

To make the gazpacho: imageChop all the veggies and put them in a food processor. Then tear up the bread and add it along with all the liquids (water, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil). That is it!

imageimagePulse it to the desired consistency (fine, but not liquified). So easy. And it makes a huge batch, great for a party or for luxurious lunches the whole week.

For the crab and avocado (which would be good on anything, right?):

imageimageCube two avocados, and squeeze half of a lemon over it. Then add half of the 1 lb. can of lump crab – I really love Heron Point’s brand, and you can freeze the other half, though we ate ours as an appetizer with easy remoulade the next night. But you could also use shrimp as well, chopped if they are large. In a bowl, mix together 3 T. olive oil, 1 teaspoon dijon, and the other half of a lemon, a dash of tabasco sauce along with salt and pepper. Then pour that over the lump crab-avacado mixture, and stir. Add 2-3 T. scallions.

image

To serve, pour chilled gazpacho into bowl. Spoon crab mixture on top and enjoy.

imageThis is just the most luxurious dish, the crab goes so well with the tomatoes and spicy jalapeño.  Simple flavors, simple ingredients. So stock up at your next farmer’s market or with your garden bounty and whip this up – I promise you will thank me!

Gazpacho with Crab and Avocado (printer version here)

For Gazpacho:

4-5 very ripe beefsteak tomatoes

2 large English cucumbers, halved and seeded

2 red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 jalapenos, seeded and stemmed

1 small (or ½ of one large) red onion

2 slices day old white bread

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 cup ice plus ½ cup water

4 T. red wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more to drizzle

 

Directions:

Core and seed tomatoes. Peel and seed cucumbers. Stem and seed the peppers. Tear two slices of bread into pieces. Combine vegetables, bread and liquids in food processor and process until almost smooth; season with salt and pepper.

Pour soup into pitcher, cover and refrigerate until very cold. (You can serve with croutons if making without the crab mixture.)

 

For the Crab and Avocado Topping:

2 ripe avocados

½ lb. lump crab

1 lemon

3 T. olive oil

dash of tabasco

salt and pepper

2 T. scallions, sliced

Directions:

Cube avocados and spoon out. Sprinkle with half the lemon juice. Add crabmeat and toss lightly so ingredients stay chunky. Make vinaigrette out of next 5 ingredients, and gently toss to combine. Add one large spoonful on top of each bowl of soup.

 

 

 

 

 

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp

December 18, 2018

I am reposting this from a few years ago, first because these shrimp are SO good, and also because when I read this post it is clear that I was equally stressed out two years ago at this time, which is oddly making me feel better. Like I have solidarity with myself from two years ago. Maybe you are on the hunt for quick delicious apps, or solidarity too. If so, enjoy! I also just posted my favorite Christmas Eve for a crowd dinner on Instagram, a Mac & Cheese bar, and lots of you were as equally in love with that idea as we are, so check out that post here.

So, between finalizing edits on my novel, my husband’s work Christmas parties, and all the decorating and gift giving, I feel like I am in college finals or maybe a Zen Buddhist video game: be serene. be patient. know the reason for the season. Also, your kids need Seasonal hats for hat day today, your husband is wondering why you bought all the candle lights for the windows if you aren’t going to put them up, and (cackling laughter) NONE of the gifts you picked out on Amazon for the cousins will be here in time for Christmas, even though they said Prime next to it, and you need to head to the mall STAT. Plus you are hosting Christmas for like 30 people.

It is easing all of my angst to find recipes that are quick and yummy, and I am sharing them with you on the off chance that you are in a similar state? No?

Let’s start with this Garlicky Roasted Shrimp recipe, shall we?

 

It is from Cook’s Illustrated, and honestly, it looked so good from the (black and white) photo it was all I could dream about after I saw it. I was thrilled to find out that it only takes 10 MINUTES to make. And it is so so good. There’s a whole sidebar in the magazine about how the brining keeps it moist and the shells on make all the proteins and sugars contribute to savory depth of flavor…in short, JUST KNOW THEY ARE SO GOOD.

image

About the only thing you may have to contribute as far as prep/effort is if your shrimp don’t come already de-veined. If that is the case you will have to put little elbow grease in but mine came deveined and ready to brine. I didn’t have any anise seeds and omitted them, though I did add some salt. And the other variations below – Peruvian and Asian-inspired – look dreamy too.

Hope you are staying warm (and sane). Happy Eating/Cooking/Wrapping/Making Merry!

Xoxo, Katie

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp (From Cook’s Illustrated, printer version here): 

1/4 cup salt

2 pounds shell-on jumbo shrimp (16-to-20 per pound)

4 T. butter, melted

1/2 cup vegetable oil

6 garlic cloves

1 t. anise seeds (optional)

½ t. red pepper flakes

1/2 t. Salt

¼ t. pepper

2 T.  fresh parsley, chopped

1 lemon, sliced into wedges for serving

  1. Defrost shrimp overnight in refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water for 30-45 minutes.
  2. If you are able to find non-deveined shrimp, then use kitchen shears or a paring knife to cut through the shell and use a paring knife to cut to 1/2″ deep and remove the vein. (Mine were already deveined). Leave the shell on for protection against the hot broiler. Add 1 quart of water to a large bowl and dissolve 1/4-cup of table salt, and place the deveined shrimp to brine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. Set an oven rack so that it is 4″ from the broiler heating element, and begin to pre-heat the broiler. In a second large bowl, add butter, vegetable oil, pressed garlic, anise seeds, pepper flakes, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. Drain shrimp and pat them dry using paper towels. Add shrimp and parsley to bowl containing the oil mixture, and toss to combine, ensuring that oil gets worked into the inside of the shrimp.
  5. Place shrimp in single layer on wire rack set over a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. The wire rack will allow air-flow around the entire shrimp. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, rotating half-way through broiling.
  6. Flip the shrimp and broil the second side for 2 to 3 minutes more, again rotating the pan halfway through broiling.
  7. Put cooked shrimp on a clean serving platter and and serve immediately, with lemon wedges.

Other variations:

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp with Cilantro and Lime

Omit butter and increase vegetable oil to ½ cup. Omit anise seeds and pepper. Add 2 t. Lightly crushed coriander seeds, 2 t grated lime zest, 1 t. Annatto powder to oil mixture in step 2. Substitute ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro for parsley and lime for lemon wedges.

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp with Cumin, Ginger, and Sesame

Omit butter and increase vegetable oil to ½ cup. Decrease garlic to 2 cloves and omit anise seeds and pepper. Add 2 t. Toasted sesame oil, 1 ½ t. Grated fresh ginger, and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds to oil mixture in step 2. Substitute 2 thinly sliced scallion greens for parsley and omit lemon wedges.

From Cook’s Illustrated Special Collector’s Edition of Winter Recipes 2017 edition

 

Mushroom + Goat Cheese Fritatta

October 25, 2018

I love frittatas so much – they are such a blank canvas that you can do anything with.

But I have a soft spot for this combo of mushrooms and goat cheese – that tang from the goat cheese with the umami from the mushrooms – such great flavors.

Making one feels like the same amount of work as scrambled eggs or an omelet. It takes maybe 10 minutes longer, but then you have a delicious breakfast or lunch waiting for you for the rest of the week. Of course you could make this for 6-8 people and I do! Sometimes. But I often just make one for me (plus the babies love frittatas now too!) for a very quick breakfast or lunch during the week that is so satisfying.

They also are the perfect meatless meals. Once or twice a week we try to skip out on meat for the day, and although pizza usually fills the dinner time slot, this is a great dish any meal that day. The mushrooms are kind of meaty, the eggs full of protein. It makes you so satisfied after you eat it you won’t miss meat or carbs.

And at the risk of blowing your mind, I recently saw Ina Garten make a frittata in a baking sheet pan, then cut it into squares as an appetizer for a party. It instantly made dozens of filling apps and the effort was so minimal. If you tripled this recipe, you have that amazing option too.

I learned the weirdest fact about mushrooms – they actually taste better if they are slightly wilted/old/looking pretty soggy. Somehow the flavor concentrates as they are aging. So don’t be afraid to use some that look like they are on their way to the nursing home. (Mold or bad smells should be trashed of course).

In addition to mushrooms and goat cheese I also love leeks and shallots, so I used those instead of onions, though they are inter-changable. Unless you’re feeling the French ingredient vibe like I was apparently. I wrote this recipe how I made it – to speed it up I cooked the mushrooms in a separate pan, so they didn’t get crowded. Sometimes I even cook a bunch of mushrooms ahead and use them up through the week in things like omelets, salads, or frittatas. I always add tarragon to them while they are sautéing since tarragon brings out great mushroom flavor.

Then I add them back to the pan with the leeks and shallots and pour the egg over them, then crumble the goat cheese and the chopped parsley over the top.

Let it set for a few minutes, then slide it into a preheated oven. You’ll know it is done when you touch the center and it is cooked, not wet. In less than 15 minutes you’ll have this:

Hope you find a way to make this for a great weekend breakfast, or if you’re like me, just make it for yourself and you’ll have a weeks worth of amazing, fast, healthy meals. Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Mushroom + Goat Cheese Frittata

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Serves: 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cooking Time: 10-13 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 8 oz packages of mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon, dried (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced (or 1 large)
  • 1 leek, white parts only, chopped
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Pepper
  • 3-4 oz. of goat cheese (feta or gruyere work too)
  • Handful of chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat, then add butter. When it’s melted, then add mushrooms, tarragon, and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 7-10 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and slightly browned and fragrant. (I cook these separate so the pan doesn’t get too crowded, other wise the mushrooms steam instead of sauté.)

3

In a second pan, heat olive oil, and add shallots and leeks with a pinch of salt. Stir to avoid browning too quickly, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan when they are cooked.

4

In a bowl, mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. eggs and season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Pour eggs over leeks and shallots, then add the goat cheese and parsley evenly throughout. Cook, undisturbed, until edges are set, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until top of frittata is just set, 10 to 13 minutes.

5

Invert or slide frittata onto a plate and cut into 6 wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Blood Orange Salad

June 1, 2017

This season you can find Blood Oranges in the grocery stores, and if you have ever wondered what to do with them (besides juice them and turn them into sangria or buy some of the packaged fizzy blood orange drinks and also turn them into sangria) this salad will help you out. They are segmented for the salad and used in the dressing, and their unique flavor just permeates this salad. But even if they weren’t in season I would still be craving them since I can’t seem to get enough fruit, especially citrus. (I may have eaten 2 of these salads in a row and then ate a grapefruit.)

They taste like sweet oranges, and have a gorgeous jewel color:

I love the combination of citrus fruit, goat cheese, (or blue or feta) crunchy nuts and vinegary dressing. So think of this as a template, and feel free to swap the blood orange for grapefruit or oranges, and use your favorite cheese and nuts. I used Marcona Almonds with Rosemary from Trader Joes, but I am guessing that ingredient is going to be pretty hard to find elsewhere. But I have to say, there rosemary was a really good note in this salad. So feel free to mix plain Marconas with some of this herb to eat alone or add to salad.

The dressing is really easy. Once you get the hang of making vinaigrettes, it suddenly feels so freeing and the possibilities seem endless. Basics are a 3:1 ratio oil to acid, but I actually prefer mine a little lighter and usually keep it 2:1. But the official stance on vinaigrettes is 3:1. If you want a little ‘tutorial’ I just found this post  ‘7 Tips for Making the Perfect Vinaigrette’  that is really helpful, I highly recommend looking it over if you are curious about making your own salad dressing.

I used both blood orange and red wine vinegar here, Dijion, salt and pepper are a must, since you are usually trying to season a lot of veggies and salt brings out all the other flavors. And I found that often times when my vinaigrette needed something it was usually a little sweetness to counter-balance the acidity, and a little Agave syrup or sugar does the trick.

This is such a great first course to a dinner party, or to make a big salad for a party. But it is also great for lunch for 1 or 2, and I have kept the recipe to serve 2. Don’t wait for an invitation to make this – it is too good!

 

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Blood Orange Salad (printer version here): 

Ingredients for Dressing:

Juice from 1 blood orange (2 T)

1 T red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon

1 tsp. agave syrup

S&P

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Ingredients for 2 Salad Servings:

2 blood orange segmented

4 c. Mixed Greens

2 oz goat cheese

1/2 cup Marcona almonds

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together for dressing, saving oil for the last. Stream oil in, whisking as it is added. Taste with a piece of lettuce to check for seasonings, adding more in needed.

Assemble salad with greens on the bottom. Add dressing just before serving.

 

 

Creamy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

March 8, 2017


CREAMY STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

This poor food blog is so neglected you may be wondering, does she even care about us anymore? Does she even care about food?

The answer is yes, and yes. But if you haven’t heard yet, I’ve been distracted by a certain book release next month and some other news that I will share soon! We also went north for New Hampshire’s February break to go skiing and I forgot my laptop. Turns out the break was really needed – I’ve been glued to it and it was nice to take a real break, and to connect with family and friends in the flesh after we’ve been hibernating all winter.

Since the last time we’ve chatted, Lent snuck up on us, as it always does (except for the Mardi Gras part, which totally gets our attention because hello, party). The one thing I do every Lent that I usually stick with 100% is giving up meat on Friday. Because of this, I thought I would come up with a few recipes that use meatless ingredients but still feel like a meal. Today I am giving you my favorite new recipe: Creamy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms.

I love portabella mushrooms. In the summer, I soak them in some balsamic, olive oil, s&p and diced garlic clove in a zip lock bag, and then grill them. Inside two hamburger buns, with some blue cheese or lettuce and tomato, you hardly even notice you don’t have meat in your meal.

But this recipe – I’ve made it a few times, and every time I love it more. You know how good stuffed mushrooms are as hors d’oeuvres? Well, imagine sitting down with a knife and fork to a plate of these all your own.

You start by roasting the portabellas with garlic, salt and pepper. Then you start make the filling by sautéing smaller mushrooms with garlic and butter.

You add these dairy beauties:

The ideas is to create a thick creamy sauce, and ricotta does that in a jiffy, along with the melted fontina. You can use milk to thin it out but the cream (I have made it with half and half but this time I had whipping cream) is what gives this dish its decadence, I think.  If you don’t have ricotta, you can easily make a sauce starting with a roux, which is roughly whisking 2 T. butter + 2 T. flour  for a few minutes, then mixing in 2 cups of milk, plus the cheese but it takes longer and I think the flavor is much better with the ricotta. Also this sauce would be amazing mixed with some pasta for another meal idea.

Then, you add the remaining cheese and broil it until the cheese is browned, about 5-7 minutes.

Creamy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms (printer version here): 
Creamy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms:

4 Mushroom Caps
2 T. olive oil
s&p
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 T. butter
½ t. tarragon
2 cloves diced garlic, divided
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cream or half and half (or milk)
1 cup grated fontina, gruyere, or monterey jack (good melting cheese), divided
2 sprigs of thyme (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place Portabella caps on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, 1 t. salt and ¼ t. pepper and 1 diced garlic clove. Roast in oven for 20 minutes.

While those cook, heat large frying pan on medium high heat. Add butter and melt. Add mushrooms, garlic and ½ t. salt, ¼ t. Pepper, being careful not to crowd pan or they will steam – use two pans if needed. Saute until fragrant and soft, about 10 minutes.

Add ricotta, cream, and ½ cup shredded cheese, and stir until combined and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Take mushroom caps out of oven and let cool for 1 minute.

Add creamy mixture to mushroom caps, then cover with remaining ½ cup cheese and a few thyme leaves. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is browned to preferrence. (I love the cheese when it is very cooked).

(Serve with pasta or wild rice and peas.)