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Archive for April, 2009

Easter

We had our first family Easter this year at the new house. It’s not destined to become a tradition right away, because I still love going to my mom’s house for Easter. We play croquet, have good wine and company, and feast until we go into food comas.
I had to replicate some of what I loved about my family Easters, so I started by hiding plastic eggs with scratcher lottery tickets inside all around the yard, just like our friend Joe used to do.  And it just wouldn’t be Easter without bunny bread!

bunnybread

On the fine china, no less!

The rest of the day was mostly new stuff I’d never made before – sparkling white wine sangria, honey baked ham, delish chocolate cake with Vietnamese coffee ice cream and a lovely vegetarian frittata, adapted from Gourmet.  Well, they call it a frittata, but the ones I know are always started on the stovetop, so I don’t know if this counts.  Maybe it’s an egg casserole.  No, that doesn’t sound as nice.  Frittata it is!

Baked Asparagus and Yellow Pepper Frittata

2 lbs asparagus
2 yellow bell peppers
3 shallots
1 clove garlic
2 medium summer squash
3 green onions
1 Tbsp butter
14 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (or cream if you dare)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Trim asparagus and diagonally cut into 1/4-inch-wide slices.  Cut bell peppers into 1/4-inch-wide strips and mince shallots and garlic.  Halve squash lengthwise and diagonally cut both zucchini and green onions into thin slices.

Have ready a bowl of ice and cold water. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water blanch asparagus 1 minute and drain in a colander. Immediately transfer asparagus to ice water to stop cooking. Drain asparagus well in colander and pat dry.

In a large skillet cook bell peppers, shallots and garlic in butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until peppers are softened, about 7 minutes. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir in asparagus, bell pepper mixture, zucchini, and green onions.  Pour mixture into baking dish and bake at 350° until golden and set, about 40 minutes. Cool frittata on a rack if you want to have it at room temperature, or just start serving!

frittata

It made for a really pretty presentation, and was really tasty to boot.  I think it was a hit.  Tough to fit so many people into our tiny dining space, but we somehow made it work and had a great time.  Cheers!

easter

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You Can Stuff It

I am always proud of myself when I’m able to come up with a recipe on my own, using whatever I have in the fridge.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or pretty looking, but this one turned out to be both.

chicken

First, I boiled some noodles and made a “kitchen sink pasta sauce” with all of the veggies I had in the fridge – this one can be adjusted to accommodate all your remnants:

olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 leek, white and light green parts diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
splash of red or white wine
1/2 fennel bulb, diced (fronds saved for garnish)
1 small turnip, diced
beet stems, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes
1-2 Tbsp tomato paste
s&p to taste

Saute the onion, leek and garlic in olive oil until softened.  Add a swig of wine from your glass, then add the vegetables in order of firmness (if you’re using any greens they should be added last).  Cook until the vegetables are slightly softened, then add the tomatoes and paste.  Cover and cook until everything is soft.  Depending on your preference, you can blend some of the sauce or just leave it all chunky – I use an immersion blender to make it a little more creamy.  This is a great sauce to make when you need to use up all your fresh produce – it also freezes really well.

Next up, stuffed chicken breasts!  Usually these are done by putting stuffing between the skin and meat, but all I had were skinless, so improvised.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts a la Carrie

olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach, washed and stems removed (should’ve thrown them in the sauce!), cut into bite sized pieces

~1 cup ricotta cheese
handful shredded mozzerella cheese
1 egg

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any fat and seasoned with salt and pepper

kitchen string

Preheat the oven to 425°.  Saute the garlic in olive oil until golden, then add the spinach and cook until wilted.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix together the cheeses with the egg, then add the spinach to combine.  Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise, and stuff each breast with your spinach and cheese mixture.

potchicken1

Tie the chicken in two places using kitchen string.  Heat a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat, then add a little olive oil.  Cook the chicken breasts until browned, about 2 minutes on each side.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Cut off the twine and serve in a fancy-pants presentation so it looks like you meant to do it, and weren’t just cleaning out the fridge.

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