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January is coming to a close, which means another month closer to spring. The anticipation for spring’s arrival gets me a little excited, ok… really excited about playing in the garden and ready to fill the growing spaces with new life. This year I plan on finally setting aside some space for a good size herb garden, filling it with all of those wonderful fresh flavors, and giving these darlings some good open ground, where the roots can grow deep and sprawl to their delight.
Living in a bigger city, it can be hard to find adequate space to have such a restful place to be, but surely enough room to have herbs. While living in a more rural community years ago, there was plenty of room to have a garden which back then I did not think to enjoy gardening as much. It wasn’t until I had a place of my own that the interest took me by surprise. Even then, I have always loved to get into the dirt and seeing what becomes of it.
For now, I will just need to be patient, very patient indeed [it's only January] until spring finally arrives and be ready to savor the first fresh farmer’s market produce. In the meantime, thinking how to best enjoy what we still have at the market which lead me to today’s recipes.
A game hen, which is perfect for two, glazed up to a mahogany finish with a mélange of vegetables.
I love so much working with vegetables and this recipe mixes them up, quickly blanches them and finishes them in a garlicky sauté perfectly. Besides it helps us get more of those healthful foods into our tummies.
Mahogany Glazed Game Hen Recipe [Serves 2]
4 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
4 Tablespoons tamari, low sodium
2 Tablespoons French brandy [optional]
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 large garlic clove, peeled & sliced
¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies
1 game hen, brought to room temp. [Approximately 1 hour]
[Some twine to truss the bird.]
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Truss your bird and set aside in an oven-able pan.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, cook for five minutes.
3. Strain glaze into a bowl and brush the bird.
4. Bake for 20 minutes and repeat with more glaze every 15-20 minutes.
5. Once the bird gets its last glaze, finish cooking in the oven one last time. Discard glaze.
Different sizes of birds cook differently so here this game hen took approximately 50 minutes to bake. The juice should run clear when poked with a knife into the thickest part of the bird. No more glaze should be put on the bird as this has raw chicken stuff in it so discard.
Vegetables Mélange Recipe [Serves 4]
5 cups mix of vegetables
[Such as: carrots, green beans, broccoli raab, Brussels’s sprouts]
3 Tablspoons olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, peeled & thinly sliced
Sea Salt & fresh black pepper to taste
blanching the vegetables:
1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch one kind of vegetable at a time until just tender.
2. Place immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
3. Drain and dry vegetables on paper towels.
finishing the vegetables:
1. Heat oil in a sauté pan and add garlic.
2. Once garlic turns lightly golden add the vegetables.
3. Cook for a few minutes to reheat and season with salt and pepper.
This is a basic recipe that you can adjust and add a few things to suit your taste. It is particularly delicious with prosciutto and toasted pine nuts. Add a few chilies and there you have a beautiful mélange of vegetables.
Today I have a few recipes to post. I could not decide on which one so I thought I would share what has been made in the past week. The weather is finally feeling like January. Blustery cold winds and sunny skies. It is a shock to think just a few days ago it felt like early March, watching as the little snow we have had melt away. I don’t think much of us mind this mild winter weather from last years’ experience.
These recipes are the kind of foods that I make on an everyday basis. No need to get fancy here, no special imported food stuff to acquire, just a few quality ingredients and a good turn of the pepper mill can make all the difference. If you experiment with gluten-free recipes you should try this honey hazelnut cornbread. No one would ever guess it was gluten-free! Too bad I did not make any slow roasted ribs to go along with it, but I can guess as summer approaches, an outdoor rib roast will be in order.
Have a great rest of the week!
Carrot & Parsnip Soup Recipe
2 Tablespoons sunflower oil
2 whole cloves
1 small bay leaf
1/3 cup shallots, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove
1 ½ cups carrots, peeled & chopped
1 cup parsnips, peeled & chopped
3 ½ cups chicken stock -or- vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons honey -or- to taste
1 teaspoon sea salt
Chopped pistachios [for garnishing]
1. Heat oil over medium heat and add whole cloves and bay leaf. Cook for a few minutes.
2. Add shallots and cook until translucent and starting to brown. Add garlic and cook for a minute.
3. Add carrots, parsnips and stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook covered until vegetables are tender.
4. Puree soup in a blender and return to the pot.
5. Add honey and sea salt to taste and serve with pistachios and a bit of cream.
Honey Hazelnut Cornbread Recipe
½ cup gluten-free baking mix
5 Tablespoons cornmeal [gluten-free source]
3 Tablespoons hazelnut meal
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup milled honey
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped [for topping]*
2 Tablespoons hazelnut meal [optional topping]
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
2. Beat together butter and honey.
3. Incorporate egg and buttermilk. [Mixture will be lumpy.]
4. Add dry ingredients and stir until well incorporated.
5. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full or a buttered dish.
6. Sprinkle tops with hazelnuts and hazelnut meal if using.
7. Bake for 15-18 minutes for muffins and 25-30 minutes for a pan.
Makes 8-10 muffins -or- an 8 inch skillet.
*note: toast hazelnuts for 10 minutes and cool before chopping.
Braised White Bean Recipe
1 cup white navy beans
1 ham shank
½ small yellow onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 sprigs winter savory
1 Tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies
3 cups chicken stock, unsalted
soaking & precooking the beans:
1. Soak beans in cold water to cover generously overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Place drained beans in a pot and cover with water.
3. Bring to a simmer and cook for one hour. Drain and set aside.
cooking the beans:
1. In a medium pot sear the ham hock until browned and there is a little fat coating the pot, remove.
2. Sauté onions and garlic on medium heat until translucent and starting to brown.
3. Add drained beans, ham hock, savory, crushed chilies and stock to cover.
4. Bring to a gently simmer and cook until beans are tender.
As a new year begins I find that I do not make resolutions, but a list of projects I would like to complete and things I would like to do. When it comes to sticking to a diet, I like to think in terms of moderation. Since I love food and with so many recipes to make, making smaller portions is the way to go, even making smaller sized desserts.
Is this recipe low-fat? Why make low-fat anything? Something I hear a lot. Things that contain cream can make one think is it terribly bad for the waist line, but keep in mind, cream may not always be the culprit. This simple spring like soup I made has only one tablespoon of cream per serving, but still seems full bodied. A touch of cream can go a long way to pull flavors in a recipe together.
A simple food philosophy I like to stick to is: enjoy your food in manageable portions, enjoy what you eat and of course eat plenty of vegetables. Just don’t ask me about my crazy cookie habit. Friends that see me on a daily basis usually see me with a cookie in hand! Something I guess needs addressing.
Enjoy these fresh new recipes from my kitchen!
Smoked Salmon Stew Recipe
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup shallots, julienne thinly
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup dry vermouth
2 ½ cups seafood stock -or- cold water
1/3 pound tiny red-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced
¼ cup small pea pods, snow peas or frozen peas
8 ounces smoked salmon, broken into bite size pieces
¼ cup cream
Freshly chopped dill
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
preparing the stew:
1. Sauté shallots in oil on low heat until tender. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes more.
2. Deglaze with vermouth and add potatoes and stock or water.
3. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until potatoes are just about done.
4. Add peas and finish the cooking. Potatoes should be tender, but not falling apart.
5. Add cream, salmon and fresh dill, heat through.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Beet & Kale Salad Recipe
1 bunch purple kale, stemmed & torn into bite size pieces
3 large red beets, peeled & fine julienned
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/3 cup sliced almond, toasted*
¼ cup sesame oil [not toasted]
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons orange juice [red navel oranges used here]
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon freshly minced ginger
1 teaspoon orange zest [from the red navel oranges]
¼ teaspoon sea salt
preparing the salad:
1. Combine all of the salad ingredients in a bowl, set aside.
2. Combine all of the dressing ingredients except oil in a food processor.
3. Add oil while the machine is running to emulsify.
4. Dress salad and enjoy.
*Toast almonds in a 350°F for 8-10 minutes.
Some things you may like in this salad are: sliced pears, chicories, orange segments and/or radishes.