Rosemary-Parmesan Popovers

DSC03254These Rosemary-scented cheesy popovers are an easy way to start a weekend morning.  I make the batter the night before and just pop them in the oven when I first get up. By the time I shower and make the coffee, they are hot and ready. They also make a tasty accompaniment to soup.

The recipe was inspired by Chronicle writer Marlene Sorosky Gray’s article on popovers on http://www.sfgate.com/recipes/article/Baker-s-quest-What-makes-perfect-popovers-4601293.phpThis is a take-off on her pepper-jack and chive popovers.  I used only Parmesan cheese and added fresh rosemary from my garden.

The lightest popovers use only white flour, but I really like whole wheat flour. I’ve tried varying combinations of whole-wheat pastry flour and white all-purpose flour. Using all whole-wheat yields a bread-like version, so the happy medium is to use 1/3 whole-wheat pastry flour.

Makes 12 popovers

1 ½ cups hot milk. I use 1%, but you can use non fat or whole milk. (But don’t use lactose-free or other milk substitutes; they won’t work.)

3 large eggs

1 cup white all-purpose flour

½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour or finely ground whole-wheat flour

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

1 ½ Tb melted butter

¼ cup plus 1 Tb freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ tsp finely minced fresh rosemary

2 Tb minced fresh chives

non-stick pan spray

Heat the milk for 2 minutes in the microwave or in a saucepan until hot but not boiling.

DSC03252adding minced fresh rosemary to batter

Using a mixer, whisk, blender or food processor, beat eggs well. Pour in milk while beating until foamy. Add the flours and salt, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add butter, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and herbs, and mix again. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, and preferably overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 375’. Place a non-stick muffin pan into the oven for 3 minutes. Remove the pan and spray with non-stick pan spray.

DSC03253Pour in the batter until holders are ¾ full. Sprinkle 1 Tb freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of batter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until tops are puffed up and browned. If popovers are baking unevenly, rotate the pan the last 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Vatrushka

These cheese-filled, sour cream dough pastries were one of my favorite treats as a child. I can eat these for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or as an appetizer. My mom, Sarah, baked hundreds of these as hors d’œuvre for our wedding. Now my kids and husband gobble them up as fast as I can make them.

We use the same filling as for Blintzes.  I changed mom’s recipe by substituting whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour she used, and mixing nonfat ricotta cheese with the farmer’s cheese to cut down on the fat. But I still top them with a bit of sour cream. The fresh strawberries I placed on top add just the right amount of sweet juiciness to balance the filling.

I got a  kick out of the comments or rather criticisms I got on this blog entry. Russians have got to be the most opinionated people on the planet! (I should know, being half-Russian myself).

makes several dozen, depending on the size

Dough for Vatrushka
1 cube butter, softened to room temperature
5 Tb sour cream
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp salt

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and egg and beat well. Add flour and salt and mix until dough is formed. Knead on a floured board about 12 times, until it is no longer sticky. Roll into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for ½ an hour. Prepare the filling while the dough is chilling.

Cheese filling
1 1/2  cups farmer’s cheese
1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese
2 eggs
¼ tsp salt
1/2  tsp sugar

Mix ingredients together in an electric mixer until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350◦

Roll out the dough on a floured board until thin, and cut with a round biscuit cutter. For larger pastries, I made little balls and roll them out into circle shapes. The circles don’t have to be perfect as long as they can fold into a half-moon shape. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, and fold it over into a half-moon shape.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have any parchment paper, spray the pan with canola oil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350◦

Serve topped with sour cream and fresh strawberries.


Egg Salad Sandwich with Fresh Chives and Red Bell Pepper


I am growing chives in my window sill.

This egg salad is moist from the cooking method and red bell pepper You only need 1 1/2 teaspoons of mayonnaise to make it creamy. The red pepper and fresh chives along with a bit of mustard and a dash of cayenne add great flavor.

If you buy the eggs for  a week before cooking, they will peel more easily than fresh eggs. This is an easy method of cooking hard-boiled eggs. Place 3 eggs in a saucepan and cover with one inch water. Add 1 tsp baking soda to the water which will help the egg peel evenly. Cover pan, heat to boiling, then turn off heat. Let eggs sit in the covered pot for 15 minutes. Drain, then cover eggs with cold water and ice. Drain and repeat several times, until eggs are cool. Crack the shell by tapping on it with the back of a spoon. Let the water seep inside, between the shell and the egg white. This will also aid in peeling. You may refrigerate eggs until ready to peel, or peel once they are cool. Peel eggs under cool running water to rinse off the bits of shell.

Serves 2
 
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp mayonnaise
4 fresh chives
¼ tsp yellow mustard
1 Tb of minced red bell pepper
several grinds of black pepper
a dash of cayenne
a 1/4 tsp lemon juice
a few shakes salt to taste

The yolks should be bright yellow and a bit soft. Mash eggs with a fork. Mince  fresh chives and stir in with mayonnaise, mustard,  red bell pepper, several grinds of black pepper, a dash of cayenne and  lemon juice, and salt to taste. You can also make this easily in a food processor, especially when cooking for a crowd. Mince the red bell peppers and chives using the blade, then add eggs and other ingredients and pulse until smooth.

Toast some good sturdy bread, and spread egg salad on it.

Tostadas

This easy tostada recipe is crisp with fresh vegetables and is low in fat and calories.  I heat the tortillas in a comal or in the oven until crispy, instead of frying them as is traditionally done.  I put minimal cheese on top and skip the sour cream.  It is delicious made with homemade pinto beans : see my recipe Frijoles pintos (Mexican pinto beans

I have made this with leftover roasted chicken breast. See my recipe:  Roast Chicken

I add 1/4 cup salsa and 1 tsp cumin (comino) and heat it up. I’ve also made it  with  well-drained chicken breast that has been cooked in enchilada sauce (leftover from making enchiladas.)

Serves 4 people ( 8 tostadas)

8 corn tortillas

1 1/2 cup pinto beans

1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast. (You can eliminate this if you want a vegetarian tostada.)

1 ear roasted corn

¼ cup salsa and 1 tsp cumin  (if using roasted chicken breast),

salsa to put on top (to taste)

¼ head crisp lettuce such as iceberg or romaine

½ cup chopped cilantro

1 large tomato or 2 small tomatoes

1 red bell pepper

black olives if desired

¼ cup grated Colby-jack cheese and/or crumbled cotija cheese

1 large avocado

1 tsp lime juice

salt to taste

Heat oven to 450’ Place corn tortillas on the oven rack or on a cookie sheet. Let bake for about 8 minutes until light brown and crispy. Alternatively, heat on comal on medium heat until crispy

Mash pinto beans with pot liquor. Heat in microwave or in oiled frying pan.

Chop roasted chicken. Add salsa and reheat in microwave for 1 minute, or in frying pan until warm. If using chicken cooked enchilada sauce, drain well or your tostadas will be soggy!

Slice kernels from corn cob

Shred lettuce, chop cilantro, red bell pepper, and tomatoes.

Grate Colby-jack cheese and/or crumble cotija cheese.

Make guacamole or simply slice or mash avocado with a sprinkling of salt and lime juice.

Assemble Tostadas:

Spread beans on crispy tortillas. Add 1 tsp. Colby-jack cheese and let it melt into beans. Add chicken.

Top with corn, lettuce, tomatoes, red bell pepper, cilantro and tomato, avocado or guacamole, and olives if desired. Crumble a bit of cotija cheese on top if desired. Add salsa to taste.

No Mayo Tarragon Chicken Salad with Yogurt

This chicken salad sings with flavor from anise-like fresh tarragon and fennel, balanced by thyme, lemon, and a bit of scallion.

I do NOT like mayonnaise,  plus it is loaded with calories (10 grams of fat in one tablespoon!), so I usually avoid chicken salads in delis and restaurants.  I use Mediterranean-style nonfat plain yogurt such as Karoun, which I find in Middle Eastern or South Asian markets. It is very thick like Greek yogurt, and has only 70 calories in a half-cup.

You can make the peas ahead of time. I suppose you could cook  frozen peas, but they won’t have the same crunch as parboiled fresh ones.

You can use a mix of light and dark meat, or just white meat, depending on what you want or have on hand. For the first batch I made, I used leftover roast chicken.

For the next batch, I poached boneless chicken breasts.  I salted them and browned them in olive oil. I then poured boiling water over it, and added a splash of white wine and a squeeze of lemon, several sprigs of tarragon and thyme and a spoonful of salt, and covered the pan, and boiled it for 10 minutes. I then turned off the flame and let it sit for  10 minutes. You can make the chicken ahead of time.

When making a large quantity for a crowd, I shredded the chicken by pulsing in the food processor. Then I transferred it to a large bowl to stir in the yogurt and other ingredients.

This recipe is pretty versatile for substituting vegetables. I added 2 Tb chopped pecans since my  South Texan husband loves pecans in almost anything.

1 cup shelled English peas

1 cup shredded cold chicken.

1 cup diced celery and/or jicama

2 Persian cucumbers, chopped.  (If you can’t find those, use 3/4 cup regular cucumbers.)

1/4  cup diced fennel root

½ cup plain nonfat Mediterranean or Greek yogurt

1 tsp minced fresh tarragon

½ tsp minced fresh thyme

1 tsp. minced shallot or red onion

1 Tb. minced green onion (scallion) about 1 stalk.

¼ salt or to taste

3 grinds pepper

1 Tb lemon juice (juice of 1 small lemon or ½ large lemon) preferably Meyer lemon

Shell about 1 pound English peas to make 1 cup, then parboil them for 2 minutes. Immediately cool them in ice water. I pour them through a strainer, then place the strainer in a bowl of ice water.

cooling peas in ice water

Dice chicken, cucumber and jicama, mix with cooled peas, and yogurt. Mince tarragon, thyme, shallot and green onion, add to chicken. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Mix well.

I bought some pita bread when I picked up the yogurt, so I tucked my chicken salad into  it.

Thai-inspired Shrimp and Mango Salad with Fresh Cilantro

serves 4

shrimp mango salad with cilantro

Salad Ingredients

1 large head of romaine lettuce

About 12 large frozen shrimp

1 ripe mango

1 cup chopped jicama (1/2 of a small jicama)

7 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves only

Run frozen shrimp under water for about 5 minutes until defrosted. Peel shrimp and reserve shells. Marinade shrimp in ) for at least 1 hour. Discard marinade, and then barbecue shrimp in a non-stick barbecue basket sprayed with oil.

shrimp on the barbie

You can also cook the shrimp in the marinade in a saucepan until the shrimp turn pink. Discard marinade and let shrimp cool.

Shrimp Broth:

Boil 2 cups of water and add shrimp shells along with

4  pieces of green onion

a slice of ginger

a smashed clove of garlic.

Let simmer for 20 minutes. Strain broth and discard solids.

Tear lettuce and rinse and spin in salad spinner and place in a large bowl. Peel the mango with a vegetable peeler and then slice. Reserve juices for dressing. (I squeezed the pit into the dressing.) Add chopped jicama.

Salad dressing:

salad dressing ingredients

Juice of one lime

1 tsp fish sauce

1/2 tsp hot oil (or more to taste)

1 Tb sesame oil. (These items are in most Asian markets, and often in grocery stores.)

1/4 cup shrimp broth

1 finely minced small clove of garlic, 1 finely chopped Thai basil leaf

1 Tb finely chopped scallion

1 tsp sugar.

Whisk together, adjusting seasonings to taste.

Add cooled shrimp and cilantro leaves to salad. Mix dressing in gently.