Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

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Parsnip and Leek Soup

by Danica Waters

 

Here in the Skagit Valley, just over a week past the autumnal equinox, sea mists hang noticeably thicker and creep down lower to enshroud the hillsides leading to the mercurial Puget Sound.  This is my favorite time of year; the walking paths that were only recently lined with the lush emerald foliage of a hearty Indian summer are now littered with crimson and gold.

And now, as bare black branches and the wings of Canadian geese stretch themselves against the fiery evening skies, a noticeable chill to the evening air sends me to the kitchen with thoughts of all things warm and wonderful…

…like SOUP!  And happily, this is a very delicious soup, indeed.  Adapted a bit from a clipping out of Fine Cooking Magazine, it is wonderful served with a hearty loaf of bread (try Golden Raisin Irish Soda Bread) and a nice glass of wine, with great music and a crackling fire in the background.

 

Enjoy!

 

Parsnip and Leek Soup

(adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine)

 

Make the Croutons:

 

1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

3-4 slices good-quality white bread (French, Sheepherders’, etc.), crusts removed and cut to ½” cubes

Sea or Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the bread cubes and fry, tossing and stirring, until crisp and golden on all sides.  Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, set aside.

 

Make the Soup:

 

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 C chopped leeks (white and light green parts only, from 2-3 large leeks) rinsed and drained

Kosher salt

1 lb parsnips, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1-inch pieces

¼ dry sherry or dry white wine

6 C vegetable broth (preferably homemade)

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 small bay leaves, broken in half

½ tsp white peppercorns, lightly crushed

¼ C heavy cream (optional)

2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme, for garnish

 

Heat the oil in a wide soup pot over medium heat.  Add the leeks, season with approximately 1 tsp salt, and cook gently until the leeks have softened and just begin to turn golden, 8-10 minutes.

 

Add the parsnips and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the parsnips are fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the sherry, increase the heat to medium high, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the broth.  Tie the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a cheesecloth sachet and toss it into the pot.  Partially cover the pot, bring to a boil, immediately lower the heat, and simmer partially covered until the parsnips are soft enough to mash against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.  Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Discard the sachet.

 

Puree the soup in batches using a stand or immersion (hand) blender, being sure to combine a mix of broth and solids in each batch.  If your using a stand blender, fill it no more than 2/3 full and be sure to vent the blender so the top doesn’t pop off (either remove the lid’s pop-out center or lift one edge of the lid and drape with a clean towel).  Rinse the soup pot, return the blended soup to the pot, taste, and adjust seasonings.    If you’re using the cream, add it now (if you’re making the soup ahead, wait to add the cream until you reheat the soup just before serving).  Garnish each bowl with some of the croutons and a pinch of fresh thyme.

 

Serves 6-8, yields approx. 7 cups.

 

Posted October 3rd, 2011.

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Crisp Chicken Tenderloins With Curry and Lemon

by Danica Waters

“Necessity is the mother of invention”. Amen.

And where there is a whole lot of necessity, there you shall find a whole lot of inventing goin’ on.  Let’s just say I happen to be on a roll these days;  indeed, I am one inventin’ so-and-so.  Happily, much like the FML day I concocted the Queen’s Rings, it seems to be working in my favor.  Happy for all the wonderful folks who follow my blog, I like to share.

You know THOSE nights when you realize too late that the grill is out of gas, everyone is starrrrrrrrrvinnnng, and dinner just needs to be UBER-delicious because even the dog appears to be out-of-sorts?  Yep. It was one of those.  (We are all down with nasty colds this morning, so that explains it.)

For some odd reason, when the mood is afoul, I seem to reach for turmeric and curry every single time.  (Probably because it works every single time.)  This time was no exception.  These crispy chicken tenderloins are not only visually stunning, with a rich golden color from the turmeric, they are just plain addictive with their crispy texture, the round, deep flavor of curry graced with the tang of freshly squeezed lemon and a hint of cilantro.

I am happy to report that the evening finished out with rave reviews of dinner, fresh blackberries over ice cream, and a healthy session of  “laugh-’til-you-almost-pee-your-pants”.  All’s well that ends well.  Thank you, Necessity.  You rock.

 

 

Crisp Chicken Tenderloins With Curry and Lemon

(Danica Waters)

 

8 chicken tenderloins, thawed

½ C flour

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp curry powder

¼ tsp cayenne, or to taste

Salt & pepper to taste

Chopped fresh cilantro

Fresh lemon slices

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

Combine flour, turmeric, curry powder, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.  Rinse chicken tenderloins and immediately dredge in flour mixture; set on separate plate to rest.

Bring large (12”) frying pan to temperature over medium high heat.  When ready, add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan and heat until oil is hot but not smoking.

 

Using cooking tongs, add coated chicken tenderloins to hot oil.  Fry until golden brown; turn and repeat on other side.  After turning, sprinkle remaining flour mixture over the tenderloins and turn once more to brown.

 

Remove tenderloins to serving platter; sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro and serve with lemon wedges.

 

Note:  These are fantastic served with Flash-Cooked Green Beans and Garlic Mashed Potatoes (recipes forthcoming), or chop them up and serve them in a pita with lettuce, tomato, and tzatziki.

 

Posted September 29th, 2011.

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The Romanesco: Roasted with Garlic, Onion and Almonds

by Danica Waters

Is it a modified American version of broccoli? A Roman Cauliflower? A German Cabbage? No one knows for sure. Only one thing is certain about this almost alien-looking annual: The Romanesco is a fabulous fractal, pleasing to nearly any palate, and guaranteed to grace any table to which it happens to be invited.

First documented in sixteenth century Italy, the Romanesco is a mild-tasting hybrid between broccoli and cauliflower, packed with important vitamins and minerals that support vision and overall immunity. What makes it even better is that it’s FUN to look at, and FUN to eat. Tell your kids it’s Martian food at Halloween, or that they’re feasting on miniature Christmas trees plucked from a fairy forest.   Its mild, mellow, and somewhat nutty flavor makes it equally effective served as crudites’ as it is when cooked ’til crisp-tender and incorporated into other dishes or served as a side.

Here’s a tasty, more grown-up way to enjoy this exotic vegetable.

Enjoy!

 

The Romanesco: Roasted With Garlic, Onion, and Almonds

(Danica Waters)

1 head Romanesco Broccoli/Cauliflower/Cabbage/Whatever, trimmed and cut into sections approximately 1 inch in diameter, larger sections cut appropriately to ensure even cooking
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced to 1/4 inch
5-6 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 C sliced almonds
Olive oil
White Balsamic Vinegar, to taste
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

In large, heatproof saute’ pan, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Add sliced garlic and cook until pale golden brown. Add onion slices and cook until soft and translucent; add Romanesco, White Balsamic Vinegar to taste, and 2 Tbsp water. Reduce heat, cover and cook until Romanesco is crisp-tender, approximately 7 minutes, or until it has reached desired texture. (Be careful not to overcook – it turns to mush and isn’t as palatable!) While Romanesco is cooking, preheat your broiler.

Remove from heat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with almonds and grated Parmesan or Asiago; place pan, uncovered, under broiler until cheeses have melted and turned golden brown.

Serve immediately.

(Serves 4)

Posted September 26th, 2011.

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Zucchini: Grilled and Stuffed Southwestern-Style

by Danica Waters

After spending a happy, busy weekend experimenting with different variations of stuffed grilled zucchini (so far I’ve done it Italian-style, Asian-style, and with green chiles and Parmesan cheese – yum!), this variation nearly got me a standing ovation.  Folks were placing dibs on leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

The secret ingredient is the tequila in the marinade.  It gets ‘em every time; it deepens the flavors and mingles well with all things grilled.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Zucchini:  Grilled and Stuffed Southwestern-Style

 

4 medium-sized Zucchini

 

Marinade:

¼ C extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp chili powder

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp tequila

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

 

 

Filling:

1 – 15 oz can black beans

½ red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut to ¼” dice

2-3 diced green onions

1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed from the cob

½ C cold cooked jasmine rice

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1 tsp whole cumin seed

2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

½ C shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1 fresh jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, finely minced

 

 

 

 

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini in tequila mixture; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

In a small sauté pan, sauté minced jalapeno with diced red pepper in a bit of olive oil until soft.  Add cumin seed, allow to cook for a minute to release the flavor of the cumin, and remove from the heat.

 

In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients with peppers and cumin and mix well.  Fill zucchini sections; drizzle any remaining marinade over each stuffed zucchini section.  Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred and cheeses are thoroughly melted; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

Posted September 1st, 2011.

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Zucchini: Stuffed and Grilled Asian-Style

by Danica Waters

Smitten with the results of my first spontaneous attempt at grilling stuffed zucchini (see Zucchini; Grilled and Stuffed Italian Style), I excitedly devoted the rest of my weekend towards developing several variations on the theme.  You would think “la familia” would be picketing outside with large signs that read “SQUASH THE SQUASH” or “IT’S X-NAY THE ZUCCHINI DAY”, but surprisingly, that’s not what happened.  Because zucchini has a relatively neutral flavor, it acts as a nearly perfect culinary canvas for all sorts of world cuisine.

 

Today’s variation has an Asian flare; the flavors and textures on this little gem will set your taste buds on fire. (Or was it the chili sauce?) It’s my personal favorite; I think I could live on this variation, like, forever..

 

Enjoy!

 

Asian Grilled Stuffed Zucchini

 

4 medium-sized Zucchini

 

Marinade:

2 Tbsp chili sauce

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp dark brown sugar

 

Filling:

1/2 small can diced water chestnuts

½ C diced roasted and salted peanuts

¼ C chopped fresh cilantro

½ C cold cooked jasmine rice

3-4 chopped green onions

Chinese Chicken Salad dressing or other Asian-style dressing ( I use Trader Joe’s Spicy Thai Peanut Dressing) to bind.

 

 

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini in chili sauce mixture; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients and mix well.  Fill zucchini sections; drizzle any remaining marinade over each stuffed zucchini section.  Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

 

Posted August 30th, 2011.

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Zucchini: Stuffed & Grilled Italian-Style

by Danica Waters (photo courtesy of www.buckcooks.com)

The end of summer quickly approaches, and gardeners across the Northern Hemisphere are getting the first tastes of their soon-to-be-overly-prolific zucchini vines. 

 

While this versatile garden favorite is an old stand-by in stir-fry dishes, minestrone soups, and of course, sweetbread, I must admit I have discovered a new all-time favorite way to adore zucchini: 

Grilled and Stuffed. 

I have recently discovered that zucchini, filled with fresh, flavorful ingredients and ever-so-slightly charred, takes on an entirely different persona;  it is smoky, delicious, and wonderful warm or cold. 

 

This week The Allspice Chronicles will happily feature four variations of Grilled Stuffed Zucchini.  They’re terrific for buffet tables and lunchboxes alike; I hope you find them as addictive as I do.

 

Enjoy!

 

Zucchini:  Grilled and Stuffed Italian-Style

 

6 medium-sized Zucchini

Italian dressing or olive oil and salt and pepper to marinate zucchini

 

½ C dry bread crumbs (substitute gluten free bread crumbs if desired)

2-3 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced to ¼ inch.

2-3 diced green onions

1 Tbsp fresh minced parsley

2 tsp fresh minced oregano

1/3 C shredded Parmesan

1/3 C shredded mozzarella

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Olive Oil to bind mixture

 

(Note:  To make a heartier version of this little gem, add some cooked Italian Sausage or Italian-seasoned Vegetarian Crumbles to the filling mixture.)

 

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini with your favorite Italian dressing or simply coat with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

In a medium bowl, combine diced tomato, diced green onion, oregano, parsley, bread crumbs, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and olive oil.  Fill the cavity of each zucchini with bread crumb mixture.  Drizzle any remaining marinade over each stuffed zucchini section.  Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred and cheeses are thoroughly melted; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

Posted August 29th, 2011.

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The Basic Crepe

by Danica Waters

I used to regard crepes as delicious somethings reserved for fancy-schmancy breakfasts on special occasions.  But then out of sheer crazy coincidence, on one of those mornings when alarm clocks don’t sound and shoes go missing and homework is seemingly scattered to the four winds, I discovered that leftover crepes are actually very practical, transportable friends to frantic moms.  They can be filled with whatever you happen to have around:  fresh fruit and cottage cheese, a smear of cream cheese with a bit of jam, or rolled up with a slice of turkey ham and a bit of cheese… Rolled up burrito-style, crepes can be easily eaten in the car with minimal mess, which makes them an even more attractive early morning solution.

 

When you take the time to make them (and they do take time), make a triple batch.  They freeze beautifully; just be sure to wrap each batch well in waxed paper and foil.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

The Basic Crepe

 

¾ C all-purpose flour, sifted

½ tsp salt

1 tsp double-acting baking powder

2 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar

 

Sift all dry ingredients together.  In separate bowl, combine:

 

2 beaten eggs

2/3 C milk

1/3 C water

¼ tsp vanilla

Zest of ½ lemon

 

Add moist ingredients to dry ingredients, and with a few strokes, mix the ingredients together.  Do not overbeat the batter – lumps will take care of themselves.  Optimally, allow the batter to rest overnight in the refrigerator.

 

Heat a small frying pan or crepe pan over medium heat;  the pan will be ready when a drop of water sizzles and dances on the surface of the pan.

 

Dip a section of paper towel in cooking oil and quickly sweep it over the hot pan.  Using a small measuring cup (about 1/3 C or ¼ C will usually turn out the perfect crepe), measure batter into the center of the pan; swirl batter until it coats the bottom of the pan evenly.  Cook until crepe starts to pull away or can be released from the sides of the pan.  Flip crepe and cook for a few seconds to set any uncooked batter; remove from pan and keep warm.

 

 

Posted August 26th, 2011.

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Linguine Frittata With Clams

by Danica Waters

In the big wide world of recipes, the pasta frittata has to be one of the best make-ahead-and-freeze-for-later meals out there.  Like its cousins Vermicelli Frittata with Eggplant or Capellini Frittata with Asparagus, Linguine Frittata with Clams is an elegant entrée easily dressed up or down depending on the occasion.  Pair with a crisp white wine (try a California Albarino) and a simple salad for a quick and easy late summer meal.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Linguine Frittata With Clams

Gourmet Magazine, April 1994

6 garlic cloves, minced

6 Tbsp olive oil

¼ c minced fresh parsley leaves (preferably flat-leafed)

¾ tsp dried hot red pepper flakes

24 small hard-shelled clams, shucked, reserving liquor, and chopped

½ pound linguine

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

 

In a small heavy skillet cook garlic in 3 Tbsp of oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened but not browned.  Add parsley and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.  Stir in clams and ¼ cup of reserved liquor and cook 1 minute.

 

In a kettle of salted boiling water, cook linguine until al dente and drain.  In a large bowl toss linguine with clam mixture and salt and pepper to taste and cool 2 minutes.  Add eggs and combine well.

 

In a 12-inch skillet heat remaining 3 Tbsp oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add the pasta mixture and with 2 forks, spread across the pan evenly.  Reduce heat to moderate and cook frittata 3 minutes.  Shift skillet so that one fourth of frittata is directly over center of burner and cook1-1/2 minutes.  Shift skillet 3 more times, cooking remaining fourths in same manner.  Put a heatproof platter over skillet and invert frittata onto it.  Slide frittata, browned side up, back into skillet and cook other side in same manner.  Slide frittata onto platter and cool to room temperature.

 

Cut frittata into wedges.  Serves 6 – 8.

Posted August 24th, 2011.

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Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas

by Danica Waters (photo courtesy of  mexicanrecipebox.com)

Another back-to-school failsafe in my freezer is the trusty enchilada.  I have lots of different kinds to choose from:  enchiladas with green sauce, enchiladas with red sauce, chicken enchiladas, you name it.  This recipe is one of my all-time favorites; while it serves a crowd with ease, it can be easily split between smaller casserole pans and frozen for later use.  Simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight and pop it in the oven when you get home from work.  Serve with Spanish-style rice and a salad for an easy meal that doesn’t taste easy.

 

Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas

(Paula Deen)

Serves 8 – 10

 

4 poblano peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 – 16 oz can pinto beans, drained

1 – 6 oz bag fresh baby spinach

2 – 15 oz cans black beans, drained

1 – 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained

1 – 8oz package cream cheese, softened

1 – 10 oz can enchilada sauce

1 C sour cream

30 – 6 inch corn tortillas, torn into 2 inch pieces

1/2 C Oaxaca cheese

2 C shredded Monterrey Jack and Colby Cheeses, blended

 

Preheat broiler.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place peppers, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet.  Broil 5 inches from heat, for 8 – 10 minutes, or until skins are charred.  Place hot peppers in a zip-top resealable plastic bag, seal bag.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Remove peppers from bag, and peel off charred skin, discarding skin.  Finely chop peppers.

In a large bowl, combine peppers, beans, tomatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, and spinach.

Reduce oven temperature to 350?.  Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.  Spread half of pepper mixture evenly over tortillas.  Pour half of enchilada sauce evenly over pepper mixture.  Sprinkle evenly with half of cheeses.  Repeat layers, beginning with pepper mixture and ending with cheeses.  Bake for 35- 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Posted August 23rd, 2011.

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Deep Dish Chicken Pot Pie

by Danica Waters / image courtesy of  greenacreshobbyfarm.blogspot.com

As the “Back to School” season descends and the evening air brings with it the first few whispers of fall, there’s one critical weekend I spend doing nothing but cooking “emergency meals” to freeze ahead.  This intense little ritual has saved me again and again; there is nothing nicer than being able to come home from a stressful day and not have to worry about doing anything but setting a table and preheating an oven.

 

Chicken Pot Pie is one of our favorites; it fills the house with delicious smells and takes the chill out of autumn evenings.

 

Enjoy!

Deep Dish Chicken Pot Pie

Pie crust for top and bottom of pot pie

 

2-1/2 C cooked cubed 1” chicken, seasoned

2 C fresh or frozen peas

¼ C finely chopped onion

1 leek, washed and sliced into 1/8” slices

3 med.  Carrots, sliced

2 med. Potatoes, cubed 1”

 

Sauce:

6 Tbsp butter

6 Tbsp all purpose flour

2 C milk, or for richer flavor, substitute half and half, or a combination of both.

1 C chicken broth

¼ C sherry, or to taste

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Herbs to taste (fresh marjoram or thyme work very well)

 

Soften potatoes by boiling just until crisp-tender, preferably in chicken stock.  Drain, reserving stock for sauce.  Place softened potatoes, frozen peas, and carrots to large bowl.  Add cooked cubed chicken.

 

In a small pan, sauté leeks and onion until tender and fragrant.  Add to rest of vegetable and chicken mixture.

 

Make sauce:  melt butter; add fresh herbs of choice and briefly wilt; stir in flour and stir over medium high heat until hot and bubbly (3-4 minutes).  Whisk in milk, chicken broth, sherry, and salt and pepper.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens (3 – 5 min.)  Stir hot sauce into prepared filling.

 

Line deep dish pie plate with pie crust;; add filling.  Top with second pie crust, trim and flute edges.to seal.  Make 3 small slits in top crust to vent, and brush lightly with milk.  (Note:  a more decorative option for your top crust might be to use cookie-cutter shapes to create an artistic look to your pie…)

 

Pie can be frozen at this point – simply remove from freezer and thaw overnight in refrigerator, bake as follows:

 

375 degree F oven – 50 – 60 minutes or until golden brown.

 

 

 

Posted August 22nd, 2011.

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