Sweet n Salty Cinnamon Roasted Pecans

Roasted pecansYou’ll go nuts for these easy and delicious roasted pecans! Sprinkle on pear or apple salad, stir into cereal and yogurt, or just eat em out of the jar.

Make these with olive oil for a healthy, vegan treat. Or substitute butter for all or part of the oil if you like.

ingredients for roasted pecans.jpgIngredients:

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
A dash of cinnamon
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 325’
Toss together all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until nuts are coated. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread nuts out to make an even layer.
Put pan on the middle rack. Roast for 10 minutes.
Let cool a few minutes, then use the parchment paper to pour them into a jar for storage.
raosted pecans in pear and fig salad

Cauliflower Cheese and Potato Soup

IMG_0552

This simple soup is a delicious warm-me-up on a cold day. Roasting the cauliflower adds a nice flavor to the soup. Creamy without adding cream.

???????????????????????????????

1 large head cauliflower

1 medium onion

2 small cloves garlic

4 cups chicken broth. You can substitute vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup.

2 large Yukon gold potatoes or one large Russet potato

3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Approximately 3 Tb olive oil for roasting and sauteing

Directions: Preheat oven to 425′

caulifloweretsCut the cauliflower into florets, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt in a baking pan.

???????????????????????????????

Roast cauliflower for 20 minutes, until it is golden brown and crispy at the edges.

While cauliflower is roasting, chop onion and saute in olive oil in the bottom of a big heavy saucepan. Smash and mince garlic and add to onion. Saute over medium heat until translucent. Add the chicken stock (or vegetable stock) and heat to boiling. While soup is heating, peel the potatoes and chop into small cubes. Add to the boiling soup.

Add most of the roasted cauliflower, reserving about 1/3 cup for garnish. Let soup cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.

While soup is cooking, grate the sharp cheddar cheese.

When potatoes are soft, add the soup in batches to a blender. Blend in batches and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Add the cheese to the last batch, then pour back into the pot. Pour all the blended soup into the pot and heat until it’s hot enough to serve, stirring well. Adjust salt and pepper.

Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the reserved roasted cauliflowerets.

 

 

 

Empanadas de Camote: Yam Turnovers

IMG_0519

Empanadas de Camote are our favorite Mexican pan dulce (pastry). After years of trying different doughs, from cream cheese and butter dough that was delicious but fell apart, to yeast dough that reminded us of Rio Grande valley empanadas,, I hit the jackpot with modified pie dough! Easy to make and easy to use, light and tasty!

Makes 8 large empanadas

Ingredients: 

Dough:

1 cube cold salted butter

1 Tb frozen shortening (Crisco)

Dry ingredients:

3 Tb  granulated sugar

2 Tb  brown sugar

1 2/3 cups  all-purpose flour, divided into 1 cup and 2/3 cup

1/2 tsp  Kosher salt

1/2 tsp  baking powder

1/2  tsp cinnamon

Liquid ingredients:

1 Tb half and half

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Filling:

1 large yam, baked for an hour and 20 minutes until super soft, peeled and smashed

1 Tb  brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

A couple of shakes pumpkin pie spice

A few more shakes nutmeg

2 Tb half and half

Egg Wash:

Reserved egg and cream mixture

A pinch of coarse demerara sugar to decorate

Directions:

Sift 1 cup of the flour together with the other dry ingredients into a food processor, and pulse a few times to mix.

Slice butter and shortening into small pieces. Stir gently into the flour with a fork, so they separate and are coated with flour.

Pulse until butter and flour become a paste.

Break up the dough with a knife and then add the rest of the flour and pulse just a few times so that the flour-coated butter pieces range from from pea-sized to crumbles. Empty processor into a medium-large mixing bowl.

Whisk together egg, cream, and vanilla in a smaller bowl. Set aside 2 Tb to brush on the empanadas.

Add the vinegar to the butter and flour mixture along with 1 Tb of the liquid mixture. Toss with a fork and add more liquid, a little at a time until it’s just moist enough to squeeze with your hands to form a large piece of dough. The dough should not be too dry with cracks nor should it be sticky.

Form dough into a round shape, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more. This allows the dough to resist shrinkage. If you leave it overnight, let it sit for at least half an hour to soften before rolling.

Form into balls that fit in your hand and place each ball between plastic wrap. Roll each ball in a circle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick and 6 inches diameter. Put a 6″ diameter bowl over the dough like a cookie cutter and peel away the excess dough so the circle will have smooth edges. You can also roll out 1/3 of the dough at a time and cut out 2 circles from each piece. Refrigerate the dough circles for 1/2 hour or more.

IMG_0609Mix the brown sugar, spices and cream into the yam.

IMG_0610Whip the yam mixture until smooth.

Preheat oven to 400′

Scoop a ball of yam mixture (about 2 – 3 TB) into the dough circles. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges.

Hold the empanada in your hand. Starting in the center and working your way to the edges, fold dough over to make a half moon. If there’s room for more filling, add it a little at a time before you seal the last edge.

Crimp to seal using your thumb and forefinger, starting at the middle and working your way to the edges.

To make pretty repulgues, fold over the triangular edge of the empanada, then fold the next triangle, continuing all around the edges. Fold the last triangle under. This takes patience and lots of practice!

Brush with reserved egg wash using a pastry brush or your finger. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake at 400′ for 20 minutes until golden brown

 

Blueberry and Cream Scones

open-scone.jpgBursting with Blueberries and light as a feather, these moist and delicious scones are the perfect way to start your day. Recipe is inspired by Trang’s Lemon Blueberry Cream Scones from her site Wild Wild Whisk: https://wildwildwhisk.com/lemon-blueberry-cream-scones

For best results, mix dough the night before, form into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate.In the morning, cut up scones and bake them.

Ingredients: (half recipe in parentheses)

blueberries on paper towel

1 heaping cup (1/2 cup) fresh blueberries

1/3 cup (2 Tb and 2 tsp) granulated sugar

Grated zest of one large lemon (preferably Meyer lemon)

2 cups (1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus extra to flour the board

1/2 tsp (1/4 tsp) Kosher salt

1 Tb (1 1/2 tsp) baking powder

2 (1) large eggs

2/3 cup (1/3 cup) heavy cream

1 tsp (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400′

Rinse blueberries, then spread out on paper towels to dry.

lemon sugarMeasure sugar into medium bowl. Grate lemon zest into sugar, and rub sugar over the grater afterward to scrub out all the zest from it. Whisk sugar well until it turns yellow and is fragrant with the zest.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into sugar, then whisk well to mix.

blueberries in flour mixAdd the blueberries to the flour mix and gently mix in with a large spoon.

In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs, cream and vanilla together until well blended.

Pour all but a tablespoon of liquid into the flour mixture. (You will use the reserved egg mixture to brush on the scones before baking.) Using your hands, gently mix the dough until all the flour mix is absorbed. Dough will be sticky.

sliced round of sconesGenerously flour a pastry board. Place the dough on the board and turn it several times until it is no longer sticky. Mold it into a large disk about an inch thick.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour. You can make the dough the night before and have fresh bakes scones with minimal effort in the morning!

Dip a large sharp knife into the flour and cut the circle into 8 pieces. Coat the knife before each cut. You may need to cut twice.

scones on baking sheetLine an insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper. This is an important step to prevent blueberry juice from making a mess on your cookie sheet! Using a metal spatula, arrange the scones on the paper lined pan so that they are not touching. Use a pastry brush to brush the reserved egg mixture on the top of each scone.

Bake for 22 minutes until golden brown. Transfer parchment paper onto a cooling rack and let scones cool until you can’t wait any longer.

 

Mango Salmon

mango salmon on plateSalmon and mango pan fried in coconut oil!

Serves 2-3 people (about 1/4 pound salmon each)

mango salmon ingredients.JPGIngredients:

3/4 pound salmon filet

1 – 2 tsp coconut oil. I used the virgin oil with coconut flavor

1/2 Manila mango, sliced

1/2 small lemon

1/2 tsp butter

Directions:

Melt 1 tsp coconut oil over medium heat in heavy frying pan. I use my cast iron skillet.

Put salmon fillet in, skin side down. Add mango slices. Cover skillet for about 3-4 minutes until the skin is well cooked.

mango salmon in panFlip salmon over and ease skin off with a metal spatula. Spread a little bit of butter on top of the salmon and squeeze some lemon on.

Add another tsp of coconut oil to the pan and flip the mango slices over. Cover pan and let cook for another 3-4 minutes until the salmon is starting to cook through. Flip the salmon over and spread a bit more butter on top and squeeze some more lemon on it and the mango slices.

Cut salmon into portions and serve with mango slices on top.

 

 

Mexican Wedding Cookies with Anise: Pastelitas de Boda con Anís

IMG_0278Bizcochitos are anise studded Mexican sugar cookies. I combined this idea with the recipe for  Mexican Wedding Cookies I found in Joy of Cooking. It made a tasty cookie even more delicious. These are a special treat at Christmastime which melts in your mouth with a lovely anise flavor.

Ingredients:

Anise

1 cup shelled pecans

2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound), softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar plus 1/3 cup for rolling the cookies in

1 Tb vanilla

1 teaspoon anise seeds

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

raosted pecansSpread pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes. Let cool on a plate. Run in food processor until they are in tiny pieces, but not powdery or oily.

whip butterBeat softened butter, add salt, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla on medium speed until it is fluffy. Gradually add pecans and anise and beat until they are incorporated into the butter mixture.

Sift the flour over the top and slowly beat until well blended.

Grease cookie sheets. Roll 1 inch balls between your palms and place them on the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake the sheets one at a time at 350′ for 12-15 minutes until tinged with golden brown. Rotate the sheet halfway through for even browning.

Place sheet on a rack to cool until the cookies begin to firm. Then remove the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

roll in powdered sugarRoll cooled cookies in 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar to coat them.

 

 

 

 

Cream of Roasted Mushroom Turkey soup

serving cream of mushroom soupOne of my comfort foods as a young woman was Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup over noodles. This post-Thanksgiving soup brings it up a quite few notches with roasted Cremini mushrooms. These earthy brown mushrooms, also known as baby bellas, are the middle child between the common white mushroom and the mature portobellos. I  add a large portobello and some shiitake mushrooms and a few pungent dried chanterelle and porcini mushrooms for extra savory umami flavor.

I used leftover turkey from Thanksgiving for the broth.

This soup takes a couple of days to make. Make the broth the first day. You can also roast the mushrooms the first day, or wait until the second day.

Makes about 8 bowls of soup

Ingredients:

roasted mushrooms1 turkey carcass with accompanying herbs, vegetables and drippings

about 16 cups of water (1 gallon)

1 pound cremini mushrooms

1 large portobello mushroom

5 shiitake mushrooms

5 dried chanterelle mushrooms

5 dried porcini mushrooms

4 Tb olive oil, divided

1 leek

1 shallot

3 handfuls (4 ounces) of egg noodles

1/2 cup cream, half and half or milk depending on the amount of richness and calories you desire.

several grinds black pepper

1/4 cup dry sherry

1 – 2 tsp salt to taste (I use sea salt)

8 oz (1/2 pound) frozen peas

Make a turkey broth using the skin and carcass of the Thanksgiving turkey and the accompanying roast vegetables and drippings, adding a gallon of water (16 cups) to a large pot. If you make a plain roast turkey, add several stalks celery, an onion, several leeks and a couple of carrots along with several sprigs of rosemary, sage and thyme to the broth. Scrape as much white meat and wing meat from the carcass, making this a bare bones operation (couldn’t resist that one!) Save some of the dark meat but add the thigh meat into the broth. Add salt to taste. Boil for a couple of hours, then pour through  sieve into a large container. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight until the fat separates.

Shred and chop the turkey meat until you have 2 cups, and set aside.

Soak the dried mushrooms in a cup of water for at least 20 minutes until soft.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub fresh mushrooms with a soft mushroom brush or wet paper towel. Wrap a paper towel around a bunch at a time to dry them. Slice the woody ends off of the stems. If your creminis are really large, cut them in half. Cut the portobello into quarters. Place in an oiled roasting pan and toss with 2 -3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes. Let cool, then slice them. Cut portobello into bite-sized pieces.

Slice the leek lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into small pieces. Soak in a salad spinner and rinse three times until all dirt is rinsed away. Slice the shallot thinly. Saute the leek and shallot in 1 Tb olive oil.

Spoon the fat from the top of the broth and reserve 3 Tb. Heat the broth to boiling and stir in the roasted mushrooms, sauteed leeks and shallot.

chopped soaked dried mushroomsChop the chanterelle and porcini mushrooms finely and add to the broth along with the soaking liquid.

Cook the soup for half an hour. Let cool for half an hour.

Ladle out 1/3 of the soup into a blender. Blend on high.

Melt reserved fat in a frying pan. Whisk in 1/4 cup white flour and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in blended soup, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Stir into the rest of the soup and bring it to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add a spoonful of salt. Stir in 3 handfuls of egg noodles. Cook for 6 minutes on medium heat. Drain noodles.

Add noodles to soup. Stir in pepper and sherry. Add cream, half and half or milk. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and adjust to taste. Stir in reserved turkey meat and peas and cook for 5 minutes.