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Vietnamese lime chicken wings

The kaffir lime leaves are the star of this dish… so much aroma in such a little leaf. You will find them flavoring many Asian dishes. One of my favs is Thai Tom Yum soup. I order mine online and keep them in the freezer. If you can’t find them don’t worry – they will be perfectly delicious using lime zest (see directions on substitutions below).

Alternatively, you could grill these if you don’t want to heat up your kitchen.

Enjoy & WOO PIG SOOIE!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1/4 cup chicken bouillon powder
  • 2/3 cup Sriracha sauce (asian aisle at grocery)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup pureed red onion or shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Asian pear (optional)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 24 whole jumbo chicken wings
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and lime leaves. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half – about 4-5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Set aside. If you don’t have kaffir lime leaves, use the zest of 3 regular limes and ½ cup honey as a replacement.

In a food processor, add the bouillon, ½ cup of the lime syrup, Sriracha, oil, onion, pear and vinegar. Blitz together to form a paste. Reserve some paste for brushing, and place the rest in a resealable plastic bag. Toss the chicken wings in the paste in the bag and allow to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour or overnight.

Set a wire rack inside each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Divide wings between prepared racks and spread out in a single layer.

Bake for 35 minutes. Brush the wings with the remaining sauce and turn wings over so the other side can crisp up. Bake for another 10 -15 minutes. Turn the broiler on and leave the oven cracked and finish for another 3 minutes. Be sure to watch and make sure you don’t burn them!

Transfer to a platter and top with cilantro leaves and peanuts.

Spiced chickpeas & fresh vegetable salad

Lots of chopping I know… but lots of satisfaction at the end. I promise. Try a little greek yogurt drizzled on top – it’s delicious!

INGREDIENTS

  • 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 small cucumbers (10 oz)
  • 2 large tomatoes (10.5oz)
  • 8-1/2 ounces radishes
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and ribs removed
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and 1/4″ dice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Greek yogurt (optional)
  • salt and black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cut the cucumber, tomato, radish, and pepper into 2/3-inch dice; cut the onion into 1/4-inch dice. Mix everything together in a bowl with the cilantro and parsley.

In a jar or sealable container, mix 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, and sugar and mix well to form a dressing, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly. (Take care when dressing the salad. I found I only needed about half of the dressing).

Mix together the cardamom, allspice, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and spread on a plate. Toss the cooked chickpeas in the spice mixture in a few batches to coat well. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly fry the chickpeas for 2 to 3 minutes, gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly and don’t stick. Keep warm.

Serve this salad on a plate, in a large circle with the warm spiced chickpeas on top. You can drizzle some Greek yogurt on top to make the salad creamy.

Corn and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Chimichurri

This was an accident waiting to happen… the kind of accident that lots of “needy” veg in the fridge & a pool party in need of a snack brings on.

It must have been that large bunch of parsley just begging to become chimichurri.

Chimichurri wears many hats in my kitchen. A topper for eggs, a dip for bread, a sauce for lamb & salmon… a spoon full of satisfaction can go a long way. The edge of vinegar, garlic & slight heat of crushed red pepper add a delicious dimension to the sweet vegetables.

Use any green vegetable you have on hand. Green beans would be great too. Serve as a side or even better – scoop it up on a chip.

INGREDIENTS

Vegetables

  • 6 ears of Fresh Corn – cooked & kernels removed
  • Bell Peppers – 2 red, yellow or orange
  • Sugar Snap Peas – 3 cups
  • Heirloom Tomatoes – 1 pint, cut in half or quarters

Chimichurri

  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, trimmed of thick stems
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

To make the chimichurri, add the parsley, fresh oregano, and garlic to a food processor and pulse several times. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil with the food processor running. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Remove the core from the bell peppers and cut into large pieces. Rub the peppers with a little olive oil & bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. They should be slightly soft but still have some crunch. When cool, cut into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Boil the sugar snap peas for 3 minutes. Remove the peas from the hot water and place in a bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Drain. Set aside.

To assemble toss the corn, tomatoes, peas & bell peppers with the chimichurri sauce (you may not need all of it). Adjust seasonings. Serve room temperature.

Baked Ricotta and Goat Cheese with Candied Tomatoes

On a recent trip to Italy I visited a beautiful village in Greve in Chianti named Panzano. This small town with 12 restaurants is a picturesque postcard of Tuscany.

The best restaurant in town, in my American opinion that may not matter too much, is the family owned Cantinetta Sassolini. Apparently all of the locals agree with my #1 rating because it was packed each night I dined. On my first visit for dinner, I ordered a starter of baked cheese with a fava bean sauce. The ricotta & goat cheese was slightly caramelized on the top with that lovely chewy dark cheese flavor. I knew I had to recreate this and found this recipe on Food52.com. The sweet candied tomatoes over the savory cheese are ridiculously good.

More inspiration to come from this lovely restaurant at the top of the hill on the way to the church (after the butcher shop).

INGREDIENTS

For the baked cheese:

  • 15 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 4 ounces log goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves, or leafy herb of your choice
  • generous grinding of black pepper
  • generous sprinkling of kosher salt

For the candied tomatoes:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup vermouth
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 sprigs marjoram, or leafy herb of your choice
  • sea salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. For the baked cheese: Place the ricotta in a colander lined with cheese cloth and leave to drain for about 30 minutes, pressing down to help extract liquid.
  2. Preheat the oven 375 degrees. Brush the inside of a 2 cup baking dish with olive oil.
  3. In the small bowl of a stand mixer, beat the ricotta, goat cheese and egg until smooth. Beat in the herbs (chopped if the leaves are large), a generous amount of pepper and salt. Taste your goat cheese first, saltier cheeses require less additional salt.
  4. Spoon the cheese mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until puffed in the center and browning.
  5. Let the cheese cool slightly, then invert it out onto a plate.
  6. For the tomatoes: While the cheese is baking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then drop in the tomatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the skins on the tomatoes start to split. Pull the pan off the flame, add the vermouth and return to the heat. Add the brown sugar and herbs and stir until the sugar is melted. Add a generous pinch of salt. Lower the heat and cook gently until the liquid is reduced to a syrupy coating for the tomatoes. The tomatoes will collapse and some may disintegrate. That’s fine.
  7. When ready to serve, spoon the candied tomatoes over the warm baked cheese and serve with sliced baguette or crostini.
  8. The baked cheese can be prepared a few hours in advance and then baked before serving. It is best served warm, but not necessarily right out of the oven. The tomatoes can be prepared ahead too and gently reheated before serving.

Sweet Potato Galettes

Another Ottolenghi masterpiece. I’m continually amazed at his combinations of flavor & texture. Bonus – it looks impressive and is super easy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons crème fraîche (can substitute sour cream)
  • 3 1/3 ounces goats cheese
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 medium hot chili, sliced thinly in rings
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 2 tsp chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the sweet potatoes in their skins for 35-45 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into thin slices. Or you can microwave for about 5 minutes-8 minutes and save some time!
  2. Roll out the puff pastry slightly and cut into 4 equal rectangles and prick them all over with a fork. Put the rectangles on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or greaseproof paper and leave to rest in the fridge for half an hour.
  3. Take them out and brush with the beaten egg. Spread a tablespoon layer of soured cream on the pastries, leaving a 5mm border around the edge.
  4. Arrange the potato slices on the pastry on top of the cream.
  5. Crumble on the goats cheese, sprinkle on the seeds and chilli and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the underneath is golden brown.
  7. While they are cooking, mix the olive oil, garlic, parsley and a pinch of salt. Brush this over the galettes when they come out of the oven. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Serves 4.

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella

I’m not sure there is a better summer salad than this gorgeous and light panzanella. You can use any tomato and you can even Sandra Lee it up and use croutons from the store. I had a loaf of cheddar & garlic bread to use… but my friends ate most of the croutons before I assembled the salad. So I mixed in the store bought ones. Just as good.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Sea salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped roughly
  • 3 cups of baby herb salad blend or arugula
  • Croutons, recipe follows (or use store bought)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Croutons

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 cups crustless cubed day-old bread (1/2-inch cubes)
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

For the croutons: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and preheat a cookie sheet in it.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with the cheese and toss again while warm to melt the cheese.

Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

For the salad: Lightly salt the tomatoes & cucumbers and drain in a sieve to remove excess liquid while you prepare the croutons & dressing (or let sit 15 minutes).

For the dressing, whisk together vinegars, salt, pepper, garlic & olive oil. Set aside.

In a bowl combine the tomatoes, arugula, onion, basil, salt, and pepper and dressing. Add the croutons and toss well. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

Serve immediately.

Turkey & Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Now you see them, now you don’t…

These meatballs are really satisfying and disappear pretty quickly! I have used ground turkey & chicken and both are equally delicious. Don’t skip the sauce… it is a must. Serve warm or at room temperature (or eat them cold out of the fridge like me).

INGREDIENTS

For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
  • 1lb ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • canola or sunflower oil

For the sauce:

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small Fresno chili, deseeded
  • 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. To prepare the peppers for the sauce, quarter them with a sharp knife and shave off the white parts and the seeds. Put them in a roasting tray and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and ½ teaspoon of the salt, then roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until soft. Transfer the hot peppers to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Once they have cooled down a little, you can peel them, although it isn’t essential for this sauce. In any case, place them in a blender or food processor with their roasting juices and add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Process until smooth, then taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Set aside.
  2. For the meatballs, place a heavy non-stick frying pan over a high heat and throw in the corn kernels. Toss them in the hot pan for 2-3 minutes, until lightly blackened. Remove and leave to cool.
  3. Soak the bread in cold water for a minute, then squeeze well and crumble it into a large bowl. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the oil and mix well with your hands.
  4. Pour a shallow depth of sunflower or canola oil into your heavy frying pan. Allow it to heat up well and then fry about a teaspoon of the mince mix in it. Remove, let cool a little and then taste. Adjust the amount of salt and pepper in the uncooked mixture to your liking.
  5. With wet hands, shape the mince mix into balls, about the size of golf balls. Brown them in small batches in the hot oil, turning them around in the pan until they are golden brown all over. Transfer to an oven tray, place in the oven at 400F and bake for about 5 minutes. When you press one with your finger, the meat should bounce back. If unsure, break one open to check that it is cooked inside. Serve hot or warm, with the pepper sauce on the side.

Tarte Flambée: Alsatian Bacon & Onion Tart

It’s impossible to go wrong with a crispy pizza like crust layered with cheese, caramelized onions & bacon. The Tarte Flambée is a regional specialty of Alsace, France and when done the right way can take some time. Making the dough, waiting for it to rise and caramelizing the onions is a slow process. However, it can all be done a day ahead at the least (cook the bacon, caramelize the onions and proof the dough and store in the fridge).

I was easily able to find the authentic ingredients but if you have trouble you can substitute as follows:

Fromage Blanc – substitute cream cheese
Creme Fraiche – substitute sour cream

It was worth every minute – absolutely delicious!

INGREDIENTS

Crust:

  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch salt

Topping:

  • 1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into lardons
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup fromage blanc or high quality ricotta
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
  • Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated

DIRECTIONS

For the dough: Activate the yeast by combining the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar. Stir together and let sit until the mixture becomes frothy and foamy and smells very yeasty, about 10 minutes.

Put the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the olive oil, salt and the activated yeast mixture. Stir until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

Dust a clean work surface with flour and knead the dough until it is tight and firm, 5 to 7 minutes. Place the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

For the topping: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the bacon in a large, wide pan and give it a couple drops of olive oil. Bring the pan to a medium heat and cook the bacon until it is brown and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve on paper towels.

Add the onions to the pan, season with salt, cover and cook until the onions have wilted and are very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook the onions until they are very soft and caramelized. This will take awhile, maybe up to 45 minutes. Stir the onions occasionally paying attention not to let them burn, but don’t rush it! When the onions are really brown and sweet, remove them from the heat and reserve.

Combine the creme fraiche and fromage blanc.

Divide the dough into 4 even balls and roll them out until they are 1/8 to 1/16-inch thick. Place them on a sheet tray and bake them in the oven for 4 minutes.

Remove the dough from the oven. Smear each dough evenly with the cheese mixture, place an even layer of the caramelized onions on the cheese and sprinkle the bacon on top of the onions. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Return the dough to the oven until the dough is crisp on the bottom and the toppings are bubbly, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

NOLA Crawfish-Stuffed Deviled Eggs

For Christmas my sweet neighbor gifted me an amazing cookbook, Harvest To Heat. It’s full of amazing recipes from America’s best chefs, farmers and artisans. These Crawfish-Stuffed Deviled Eggs are courtesy of chef Donald Link of Herbsaint Bar and Restaurant in New Orleans. The not so traditional filling is full of authentic Louisiana flavors.

Crawfish season officially starts after the New Year… but I wasn’t able to find any fresh crawfish tail meat (Central market was even out). Luckily I found some frozen tail meat direct from Louisiana (If you can’t find crawfish substitute shrimp). These are simple to put together even though they take a little more time than traditional deviled eggs due to the onion/pepper mixture needing cooling time… but well worth the effort. If you are prone to overcooked eggs with green yolks, try my fail proof hard-boiled egg instructions below for the perfectly cooked yellow center.

These are off to the Super Bowl party to be devoured.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1/2 small poblano, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 pound crawfish tails (16 whole pieces reserved, the remainder roughly chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chives, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard

DIRECTIONS

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover them with cold water, not too deep. Place on burner on HIGH heat. Once they start to boil turn on the timer to 3 minutes.
When the timer goes off, quickly take off the heat, put on the lid and reset the timer to 8 minutes. When 8 minutes are up, take to sink and run cold water over them for about a minute, let them soak a bit to cool off. Once the eggs are cool, peel and cut them in half lengthwise, separating the yolks from the whites. Set both aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat and add the onions, celery, jalapenos, poblanos, and spices. Season with salt & pepper. Cook for 4 minutes to sweat the vegetables. Add the crawfish and cook for another 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool.

Put the cooked egg yolks in a mixing bowl and mash them with a fork or potato masher. Add the lemon juice, mayonnaise and mustard and mix to combine. Fold in the cooled crawfish mixture.

Spoon the crawfish mixture into the cooked whites. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with chives and top each with a crawfish tail.

Artichokes with Roasted Garlic Aioli

I couldn’t be happier that Laura Calder is on the Cooking Channel. Finally – a show that defies any preconceived ideas of fussy & pretentious French cooking.

On an unrelated note I am equally unhappy that Sandra Lee is STILL on Food Network.

French Food at Home is refreshing and carefree. Laura Calder is lovely. Her background music is even cute. She makes me want to buy a swing for my porch and fill glass carafes of stock and wine for my fridge. How pretty.

As are these beautiful artichokes she threw together. Perfect starter or snack for a lazy afternoon… which is how I enjoyed my Sunday (and wishing for a swing).

If you need direction on how to prepare an artichoke here’s a great video that breaks it down.

INGREDIENTS

For the aioli:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 head garlic, roasted*
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon

For the artichokes:

  • 6 large Jerusalem artichokes or 12 baby artichokes (poivrade variety, which are the tiny ones)
  • 1 to 2 lemons
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS

To make the aioli: Beat the yolk with the vinegar and mustard in a bowl. Whisk in the oil, drop by drop, to make a thick mayonnaise. Squeeze the garlic out of the roasted cloves into the mayonnaise and whisk smooth. Season the aioli with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, to taste.

To prepare the artichokes: Trim the artichokes, rubbing with lemon as you go, until you are down to the core with a bit of stem attached. Halve. While you’re trimming, bring a pot of water to the boil. Squeeze the juice of a lemon into it and salt it. Drop in the artichokes and cook until tender, about 10 minutes, depending on the size. Drain, and pat dry. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and brown the artichokes on all sides. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Serve with the aioli.

* To roast a head of garlic, wrap in foil and bake for an hour at 350 degrees F.