Monday, April 27, 2009

Zucchini Frittata

This is one of my all time favorite  frittata recipes.  I have made this dozens of times and it always tastes great.  This recipe comes from an older cookbook, back when low-fat cooking was all the rage.  Given the new information that eggs don't actually raise your cholesterol (South Beach Diet), I now use the entire egg.

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Zucchini Frittata (adapted from Reader's Digest Great Recipes for Good Health)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 green onions, including tops, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized zucchini or 2 small (about 1/2 pound), halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 can (1 pound) low-sodium tomatoes, drained and chopped (I use a 14.5 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, drained)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 - 5 large eggs (original recipe called for 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
Parsley for garnish

1) Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a nonstick 10 inch skillet with an ovenproof handle, heat the olive oil over moderate heat for 1 minute.  Add the green onions and cook, uncovered, until soft -- about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, thyme, and pepper and  cook, covered, until the zucchini is just tender -- about 3 minutes.

2) In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg whites; blend into the vegetable mixture in the skillet and sprinkle with the cheese.

3) Place the skillet in the oven and bake the frittata, uncovered, until just set-- about 5 minutes.  Raise the oven temperature to broil and place the skillet in the broiler 5 to 6 inches from the heat; broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until the frittata is golden.  (I usually just leave the pan in the oven at 350 until the frittata is brown and bubbly -- about 45 to 50 minutes.  When going with this method do not cover and cook the zucchini for 3 minutes as stated in step one.  Instead saute the mixture uncovered for one minute and remove from heat.  Otherwise, the zucchini will get overcooked while baking)

4) Serve with a tossed green salad, carrots, or fresh strawberries.  Serves 4

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spicy Pork Loin Chops

I love to cook, but nobody that I know likes to cook complicated meals every night of the week (unless maybe it is your full time job to do so).  Some of my favorite meals to cook when I don't feel like cooking a "major meal" involve olive oil and a skillet.  Depending on a side dish this meal can be on the table 15 minutes.

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Spicy Pork Loin Chops

3 to 4 thick cut pork loin chops
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
pinch cayenne (this will determine the kick)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil

1) Measure all the spices in a small ramekin and mix well.

2) Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Sprinkle 1 side of pork chops with half of the spice and place spice side down in heated skillet.  While first side is cooking sprinkle remaining half of spice mixture on the pork loin chops. Cook for 5 minutes.
3) Flip loin chops and cook for 5 minutes more (or until internal temperature is 160, or your desired degree of "doneness")
4) Turn down heat and let meat rest up to 5 minutes until ready to serve.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

This recipe has made its way to an Easter tradition in our home, and has been served as a brunch item on occasion. If there are any left over, and that is a big IF (this last time there was sad), I love to chop them up and put them in an omelet.  The first time I tasted these I was at a friend's baby shower.  I loved them so much I asked for the recipe immediately.  Happily the mother-to-be shared it and told me that she found it in Bon Appetite - The Christmas Season, 2000.  Now I went searching for the recipe online so I could link to it here, but I don't see anything like the original as it was given to me.  Since I have made this recipe a few times I have now experimented with the recipe.  In the past, I have followed the recipe exactly as it was given to me (with the exception of the amount of goat cheese -- I just use the whole 5.5 oz package) BUT, this last time I did a couple of things different.  Every time I make them they are turn out great.  I like the method that I used last time because it removes the blanching step.  I am going to post both versions here as well as links to similar variations I found as I was looking for the original.  Bon Appetite!

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Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus (The original as given to me)
2 1/2 ounces soft goat cheese
1 clove garlic -- minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
32 asparagus spears -- trimmed
16 paper thin prosciutto slices

1) Mix goat cheese, garlic and pepper in small bowl to blend. Set aside.

2) Cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to bowl of ice water and cool.  Drain and pat dry.  Arrange prosciutto slices on work surface.  Cut each in half crosswise.  Spread 1 side of prosciutto slice with cheese mixture.  Place 1 asparagus spear on 1 short end of each slice.  Roll up tightly.  Transfer to baking sheet. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

3) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake asparagus until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to platter and serve.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus (My latest version)
5 1/2 ounces goat cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
24 asparagus spears -- trimmed
6 paper thin prosciutto slices

1) Mix goat cheese, thyme and pepper in a small bowl to blend.  Set aside.

2) After cutting off the bottom inch or two of tough stalk, use a potato peeler and lightly peel the outer "skin" of the bottom two inches of spear. 

3) Spread a thin layer of the goat cheese mixture on a prosciutto slice.  With a very sharp knife slice the cheese covered prosciutto slice into thirds lengthwise.  Wind the cheese covered prosciutto slice up the stalk, pressing the cheese into the stalk, and place on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray.

4) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and roast for 10 minutes or until prosciutto is lightly browned and the asparagus is crisp tender.

Other similar recipes that I'll be checking out in the future are posted here for your convenience (all from Epicurious):

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Potato Pancakes - German Style

I have had many versions of potato pancakes, after all they come in many shapes and sizes. When I was a kid my mom made a version from leftover mashed potatoes which we all loved. I have made them from box mixes. I have ordered them from restaurants.  However, as an adult with grown-up taste buds, hands down, my favorite version is from a gourmet grocery store/deli in Canton, Michigan called Holiday Market.  They were big and thick with coarsely grated potatoes and onion. Since I now live about 2000 miles from this wonderful store I went in search of something similar.  I found this recipe here at Recipezaar - I barely changed a thing.  They are identical to my all time favorite version.  Sigh, there is nothing more satisfying than finding a really good recipe that matches something that you have had from a restaurant (or gourmet deli in this case).

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Potato Pancakes - German Style

3 lbs of potatoes, peeled and grated (yes, weigh the potatoes for accuracy either at the store or with a digital home scale)
1 large onion, chopped or grated
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
3 Tablespoons (or more to taste) of fresh parsley
Canola oil

1) Keep potatoes covered with cold water until ready to grate.
2) Either use a medium shredding blade in a food processor to grate the potatoes and onion together then dry between sheets of paper towel, or grate the potatoes with a hand held grater into another bowl of cold water.  Grate onion and set aside. Drain potatoes using a colander. Add the grated onion to the colander. Using paper towel press down to squeeze out any excess liquid, and to absorb as much moisture as possible.
3) In a large bowl combine potato/onion mixture with eggs, flour, baking powder, parsley, and salt.  Mix well.
4) In one or two large skillets heat 1/8" canola oil over medium until hot. Using 1/2 cup measuring scoop, turn out 1/2 cup mounds of potato mixture into hot pan(s), carefully flattening with spatula, and fry until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. (My stainless steel pan cooked the pancakes almost twice as fast as my teflon pan).  Drain on paper towel and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.  Replenish oil in pans as necessary and repeat until all the mixture is gone.  Tip:  stir the mixture before scooping out the next batch.
5) Garnish with more parsley and serve with applesauce and sour cream for sides

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I must be in the mood for Greek lately.  This is so good I just bought all the ingredients again! Isn't that the case though...going through seasons of cravings?  Or, am I the only one?  I am so grateful that I'm actually starting to crave fruits and vegetables again...the tell tale sign of spring for me.  However, one vegetable that I can eat year-round is eggplant much to my husband's chagrin;-) Hey, I've won him over on spinach, and he likes this dish so I'm on my way to another eggplant convert.

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Moussaka (a blend of 2 recipes from: The Book of Greek Cooking by Lesley Mackley &  food network magazine, March 2009)

2 large eggplant
1/2 cup olive oil, plus two more for the pan
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lb ground sirloin (or lamb)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
14.5-ounce can  diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste

For the Cheese Custard
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups milk, at room temperature
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher Salt
8 oz of Kasseri or Kefalotiri cheese, grated
4 eggs, beaten

1) Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch slices, place in several layers in a colander lightly salting each layer.  Allow eggplant to sweat out it's bitter juices for 30 to 45 minutes.  Press down to squeeze out water, and pat dry with paper towel.
2) Preheat oven to 450.  Arrange eggplant on two baking sheets brushed with oil; brush generously with remaining 1/2 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until soft about 20 minutes.
3) Heat two tablespoons of olive oil to a pan, and add onion and garlic.  Saute for 3 minutes or until soft.  Add beef and cook until no longer pink, add oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Blend well. Next, add diced tomato with juices and tomato paste and simmer for 15 minutes.
4) As the sauce simmers make cheese custard by melting butter over medium heat. Add flour to make a soft paste.  Remove from heat and gradually add milk mixed with nutmeg and 2 teaspoons salt.  Return to heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Remove from heat again and stir in two thirds of the cheese, cool slightly, then stir in the eggs; set aside.
5) Reduce oven heat to 350.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray; layer 1/2 of eggplant, 1/2 of sauce, the last 1/2 of eggplant and the rest of the sauce.  Top the mixture with the cheese custard and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
6) Bake the moussaka uncovered until the custard is set and lightly browned, about 1 hour.  Let rest 20 minutes before serving.


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