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Appetizers

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.)

Holiday Cheese Ball {3 Ways}

November 22, 2016

We’re going retro on this post and I love it.

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The Holiday Cheeseball is a classic, like bacon and dates, shrimp and cocktail sauce, chicken on a stick with peanut satay. They all say “grab a rum and coke and take a deep breath”. They’re not new ways to wow people but rather old favorites that invite everyone to put their hair down and relax, like piano ballads or cult movies. They’re feel good and you have fun with them.

They’re also really easy. I’m convinced these were invented because someone was scrambling to make something for a holiday party and looked in their fridge. The ingredients are what we pretty much have in our bare bones state + still thriving herb pot.

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The combo my mom made most frequently growing up involves a stick of butter, a package of cream cheese, gorgonzola and garlic. (Feel free to use less butter if you are offended.) Salt, pepper and Worchester help all those flavors mingle and the result is the most pungent and umami sensation. Creamy and salty with a kick from the garlic and the blue cheese. Use more or less depending on how much you love it.

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I recommend either setting out the dairy to become soft, or warming in the microwave (watching carefully) for 30-60 seconds. The hand mixer helps everything distribute evenly but feel free to trust your folding skills with a spatula.

Then chill in the fridge for 30-60 minutes, letting the flavors develop. When it is a little firm, mold it into a ball with plastic wrap and set in the fridge until the butter hardens and it keeps its shape. Then you can roll it in the chopped parsley.

 

 

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Here are three easy versions of this, but feel free to think about your favorite ingredients and try them out. But the Holiday Cheese ball begs to be a vehicle for different flavor profiles: Olives + nuts, capers + salmon + dill, sundried tomatoes + basil.

They also love to be turned into things – a turkey (with sliced almond), a pumpkin (with shredded carrots). You can even stick some mistletoe in it for some holiday flare. Because we all do weird things at the holidays.

The sky is the limit friends. So I hope this helps you find a super easy way to celebrate.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

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Holiday Cheese Ball: (printer version here): 

Garlic and Gorgonzola Recipe:

1 stick of butter, softened 

1 brick of cream cheese, softened (I use ⅓ less fat)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 T. Worchestershire sauce

¼-½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola

¼ t. Salt

Let butter and cream cheese soften, or carefully soften in microwave being sure not to melt butter. Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix with a hand mixer or very thoroughly with a spatula. Chill for 30 minutes in bowl. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for another 30 minutes or until firm. Roll in chopped parsley or other favorite herbs.

Bacon and Smoked Gouda Recipe: (I love this one!) 

Follow same recipe but instead of blue cheese, garlic, and parsley use:

½ cup shredded smoked gouda

4-6 strips of bacon crumbs

½ cup chopped smoked almonds for rolling the outside (or enough to coat cheese ball)

(You can use parsley if you want it nut free)

Herb Goat Cheese Ball:

Follow same recipe but instead of blue cheese use:

4 oz. goat cheese

½ cup finely chopped red peppers (or ¼ cup red, ¼ green for Christmas)

3 T. each chopped parsley, chives, basil for rolling 

Swiss Pumpkin

October 20, 2016

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Now that the leaves are starting to look like the color of pumpkins, I am so excited to share this recipe that I actually guest posted on the Ella Claire Blog last year. It is so so good.

I found this recipe in Ruth Reichl’s food memoir Comfort Me with Apples (a sequel to Tender at the Bone). I am a big fan of food memoirs at the moment since I am writing one of my own about growing up in a big Irish family in Chicago (I am one of eight) and we had a huge passion for food. In Comfort Me with Apples, one of the lasting images I had was how her husband said he wanted a divorce, and all she could do was make Cream of Mushroom soup. I just feel like food does that healing thing. She ended up being the editor for Gourmet Magazine and remarrying and having a son. So her story ends well.image

Happily, when I made this recipe it was a great story. I made it for my husband for a date night at home. The smell when you take this out of the oven is like nothing else – a mix between pumpkin pie, creamy squash soup, and French onion soup. The fragrance will transport you. After we took the first bite, we just looked up at each other, silent, the fire roaring, and then in unison went, “mmmmhhh”. Or something close to blubbering adults. It warms your insides like nothing I have ever had – the pillow soft pumpkin, creamy buttery soup, and nutmeg infused bread tastes like heaven, all mixed with the saltiness of the gruyere cheese. It is such a special dish. The best part? I wrote all this a year ago, and I can still go back to that exact moment we tasted this and I am there.

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This dish is perfect for Holiday parties or special family winter dinners. I’m not hosting Thanksgiving this year but if I was, everyone should start with a little Swiss Pumpkin on their plate. But it also seems like something you could easily bring to a family with an illness or a new baby since it has its own (disposable) transporting vehicle.

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I hope you get to taste it. Or at least read Ruth Reichl. Happy fall everyone!

xoxo, Katie

Savory Baked Pumpkin (serves 4) 

**Slightly altered from Ruth Reichl’s original recipe.

2 small pumpkins (about 6 – 8 inches in diameter)

Sliced French bread; several pieces, toasted

Grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese (about 4 oz)

Half and half, about 2 cups

2 eggs

1 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. pepper

1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg (makes all the difference)

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top off of your pumpkin leaving the stem intact. With a spoon, scrape out the innards of the pumpkin and discard. (You can reserve the seeds if you like for a latter use.)

Next, rinse the pumpkin both inside and out and pat dry. Place a layer of your toasted bread on the very bottom of the pumpkin cavity. If you need to break up your toasted bread to fit, that is fine. You just want a light layer; you do not need to pack it in. Over the top of your bread sprinkle a bit of your cheese; just enough to cover the bread. You will want to repeat this until you fill the cavity of the pumpkin to its rim, about 2-3 times.

Then, pour the half and half mixture over the layered bread and cheese and into the pumpkin cavity. I like to do this slowly to be sure the half and half is filling in the crevices and not ready to overflow the pumpkin filling. Place the pumpkin top you cut off back onto the pumpkin and place on a baking sheet.

Finally, place the pumpkin on the baking sheet into the center of your oven for about 2 hours. Your baking time will depend on the size of your pumpkin and how much you fill it, so I always check it after one and a half hours of baking. You want to bake it until a knife can easily pierce through the flesh of your pumpkin. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and wait about 15 minutes before serving.

BLT Dip

October 7, 2016

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I know everyone is doing everything FALL, and I am marinating in this gorgeous time of year too. But Right now we are saying goodbye to one of loveliest parts of summer: fresh garden produce. Specifically tomatoes. And we still have so many!  I have been thinking of ways to really capitalize on the last few weeks of their gorgeous flavor.

I love twists on classics, and I love BLT’s (side note: I just heard George Zakarian recommends slicing your tomatoes, then basting your bacon with the tomato juices before cooking them for BLT. Just thought I would share that genius tip with you all because you’re my favorite.)

I decided to make a dip that could deliver the texture combo of a BLT to your mouth in one bite. We had a get together to go to last week, and a ton of tomatoes on the window sill, and a package of bacon. Game on.

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I also happen to love Hidden Valley Ranch (not sponsored, just a throwback to childhood). I like real, natural food, but since I have an affinity for things like HVR and velveeta cheese, this blog can’t truly be an all natural one. It will just have to be 90% healthy and 10% nostalgia I guess.

But how to deliver the flavor of BLT into my mouth with, say, an endive leaf or a bagel crisp?  I knew that a dip made with Ranch was the answer.

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Turns out it was a good one. This recipe was so satisfying, with chunky, juicy tomatoes, creamy herby ranch and smokey, salty bacon. And it made a lot! I refilled the cracker side once at the party, and the endives were all gone in a New York minute. When we got home there was still a little bit left, so I took a bite and the flavors had mingled even more, and were so delicious. So if you have time, make this ahead and let it meld together, reserving the toppings to put on when you are ready to serve.

If you happen to have the fortunate problem of having a lot of tomatoes to use up, this one’s a keeper. Hope your October has been a good one so far!

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

BLT Dip (printer version here): 

Ingredients:

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch

1 cup light sour cream

1 cup light mayo

½ cup of milk to thin it out

6-8 strips of bacon

4 ripe tomatoes, diced

½ cup green scallions (about 4-6)

S & P to taste

3 endive bunches

1 package favorite cracker such as bagel chips, pita chips, or thin pretzels

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. Cook bacon slices until done, about 15-20 min. (Check frequently after 10-15 minutes). Let cool.

While bacon is cooking, combine the Ranch packet, sour cream, and mayonnaise, adding milk until it is desired thickness (about ½ cup). Once combined, chill for at least ½ hour to let flavors develop.

Chop the tomatoes, scallions and bacon. Reserve about 2 T. of each for the top. Mix together the rest with the ranch mixture. Sprinkle reserved toppings on top and serve with endive and crackers.  

 

6 Ingredient Zucchini Tart

August 17, 2016

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It’s that time of year again, when gardeners and CSA members ask themselves: what else can I do with zucchini?

If your garden is anything like ours, then you might have blinked and then looked down to see one laying on the ground that is roughly the size of a baseball bat:

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^ An offering to grandpa. I love how Andrew looks like he is paying homage with all his might.

I’ve seen a ton of recipes around for zucchini (I’ve added my favorites at the end of this post!), but in true Humble Onion philosophy that simple ingredients make the best food, I wanted to make a light zucchini tart with simple ingredients. So I gathered up these:

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My number one way to use up garden veggies is just to sautee them with a bit of garlic and either serve them as a side dish or toss with sausage, ground beef and tomato sauce to serve on top of pasta. But zucchini is such a special ingredient I wanted to come up with a recipe that really showcased it’s simple goodness.

Enter puff pastry, which just makes everything special. I usually keep some in my freezer (it is so great for party apps on the fly). I rolled it out, then scored a one-inch boarder around the edge and pricked the middle with a fork so it wouldn’t puff up.

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I sautéed some onions with thyme that is over flowing in my herb pot, and then sprinkled some gruyere cheese over that. In case we didn’t all need a reminder that sautéed onions make anything delicious, here is Exhibit A:

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Then coat the top with a little olive oil and sprinkle the whole thing with salt, pepper, and cook at 350 for 30 minutes or until crust is brown. And of course, I added more cheese on top, because why not?

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Whatever you do, don’t announce that you’re bringing this to something like, say, your final tennis league round robin and then taste it with your husband when it comes out of the oven and is warm and gooey, because if you do, you will have to bring some cheese and crackers and fruit instead since you will have eaten it all. Hypothetically speaking, of course!

The next time I made this (which was 2 days after the first time because it is so good it hurts) we dolloped goat cheese all over the top and it was AH-mazing. It was for my best friend’s house warming party and I honestly don’t think there is a better way to welcome people into your house then cutting up a piece of this tart and giving it to them.

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(Cook’s Note: I did try to get the water out of the zucchini the first time by salting it and letting it sit in a colander for an hour and rinsing it, which I usually do for eggplant and zucchini, but I suspected this was unnecessary and the second tart proved me right when I omitted this step and it was a perfect velvet texture. Just in case you thought about it, I thought I would save you the angst.)

I’m going to layer my next one with tomato/zucchini, just waiting on some tomatoes to turn red. The bottom line is you really can’t mess up something so simple, but you can add whatever you want to it – summer squash, eggplant, all the ingredients for ratatouille – and it will still be amazing. Have fun with it.

So if you have any late summer bounty laying around, you know what to do with it! Just call me when it comes out of the oven and I’ll be right over.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Other Zucchini Recipes I love:

{Tomato and Zucchini Gratin: if you can handle the old blog post pics, this is still my favorite}

Zucchini Parmesan from Alexandra Cooks (she has a ton of links on this for more zucchini recipes too).}

{Baked Zucchini Fries: these are next on my list to make! Or these crisps which are a close variation.}

{We make this zucchini salad with pine nuts when we go to Maine every year}

{Ina’s Zucchini Pancakes – my daughter loves these!}

Even as I added these, this tart remains my favorite. No bias here, obviously.

6-Ingredient Zucchini Tart (printer directions here): 

1 large zucchini, cut into circles or sliced lengthwise

1 small onion, diced

1 garlic clove, diced

1 sprig of thyme, about 3-4 sticks

1 package puff pastry

2 oz. grated gruyere cheese

Olive oil, salt and pepper (since they are staples, not counting them as ingredients)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Let puff pastry thaw according to package (1 hour at room temperature when fully opened, or overnight in the fridge).

Put saute pan over med-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions with a pinch of salt and cook, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, stir frequently, cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add thyme and pepper, and cook till onions are browned a little, about 5-8 more minutes.

While onions cook, roll out one piece of puff pastry on clean surface with a rolling pin. (One sheet makes 3-4 servings, for 6-8 servings use two sheets and add more cheese).

Add cooked onions in even layer to pastry. Then add gruyere cheese to cover. Finally add zucchini in co-centric layers, and coat with olive oil using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Alternate Variations:

//  Add dollops of goat cheese to top of tart

//  Use tomatoes, summer squash or eggplant in any combination with zucchini