Category Archives: I Cooked: The Main Course

Auntie Tammy’s Gluten-Free Spaetzle

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After binge-watching a whole season of Master Chef Junior in two days, Samantha was fired up to create something in the kitchen.  My sister Tammy gifted me a very cool contraption for making Spaetzle, and with a pot of our Mom’s homemade turkey soup bubbling in the slow cooker the day after Christmas, these little German pasta dumplings sounded like the perfect addition.IMG_2985

Spaetzle starts with a dough that you pass through something that looks like a cheese grater (you could use a sieve with large holes) directly into boiling water.  You can add it to another dish like we did, or season with olive oil and fresh herbs for a super-easy side dish.

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Gluten-Free Spaetzle (serves 4):

1/2 cup of milk (at room temperature)

2 eggs (at room temperature)

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Gluten Free Flour

1/8 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

Salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Combine milk and eggs in a small bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl, then stir in wet ingredients.  Pass dough through the Spaetzle maker into the boiling water; Spaetzle will float when cooked, which takes about 1 minute.  Remove with a slotted spoon and toss with a little oil to keep from sticking.

Zesty Shrimp Salad

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So while I have been cooking up a storm these past few months, I haven’t been posting the recipes — shame on me and I forgot how fun it is to share good food with everyone!  Well this is one recipe I have made over and over with several variations; it has become a go-to appetizer for potlucks and an easy make-ahead meal.  Since I have promised to send the recipe to a few people, what better time than to finally create a new blog post.

This Zesty Shrimp and Black Bean Salad recipe originates from Eating Well magazine.  It doesn’t call for tortilla chips, but we have found this is the most fun way to eat it.  Adding diced avocado is a delicious option too.

Zesty Shrimp Salad

Zesty Shrimp Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile in adobo (see note below)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined cooked shrimp cut into pieces
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large poblano pepper or bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Tortilla chips for serving

Directions:

Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle, cumin and salt in a large bowl. Add shrimp, beans, tomatoes, poblano (or bell pepper), scallions and cilantro; toss to coat. Serve room temperature or cold.

Chipotle chiles in adobo are sold in cans in most grocery stores.  You only ever need a small amount for a given recipe, so I like to toss the contents of the whole can (seeds and all) into the mini food processor and blend, then lay flat in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.  It keeps for a long time and you can just break off a chunk when you need it.

A Weeknight Like Giada’s

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Mediterranean Halibut Sandwich

Like most people, my creativity and enthusiasm for cooking seems to droop on busy weeknights.  I was recently flipping through the latest issue of Health magazine and they were featuring several recipes from Giada de Laurentiis‘ new cookbook, Weeknights with Giada.  I have to admit, they all looked pretty do-able, and the Mediterranean Halibut Sandwich recipe was calling my name.  I am all too familiar with making basic sandwiches for a quick dinner, but this halibut recipe is restaurant-calibre, in my humble opinion.  The fresh herbs and lemon zest mixed with the halibut really make the dish special.

I didn’t deviate much from the original recipe, other than to use fresh sliced tomatoes in the sandwich instead of adding sun-dried tomatoes into the halibut-mayo mixture — just to keep from throwing the kids off too much.  I also left out the capers.  The sandwiches were a big hit, and I will definitely be making them again.  I may also try using the halibut-mayo mixture in a pasta salad.

Mediterranean Halibut Sandwiches (adapted from “Weeknights with Giada”, as featured in Health magazine):

Cooking spray

2 (6-oz) halibut fillets, skinned (I used 14 oz in total)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided

1 (14-oz) loaf ciabatta bread, ends trimmed, split horizontally

1 garlic clove, halved

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayo (I used olive-oil mayo)

1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp capers, drained and mashed

Grated zest of 1 large lemon

2 packed cups (2 ounces) arugula (I used a mix of baby greens)

Preheat oven to 450 F.  Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray; add halibut and season with salt and pepper; rub with 1 tsp oil.  Bake 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and the flesh flakes easily with a fork.  Cool.

Remove some bread from the top half of loaf (and try not to eat it all).  Brush  cut sides with 2 tbsp oil.  Bake on a baking sheet 6-8 minutes, until golden.  Rub toasted surfaces with garlic.

In a medium bowl, combine mayo, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parsley, capers, and lemon zest.  Add fish, flaking and mixing with a fork.  (I added extra salt and pepper at this point).  Spoon onto bottom half of bread and top with arugula (I tossed my greens in a bit of olive oil).  Add top of bread and cut into 4 sandwiches.

Seared Scallops (Finally)

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Seared Sea Scallops

I adore sea scallops and order them frequently when dining out.  I must have assumed it was an art form to get them cooked perfectly, because I’ve never wanted to try making them at home.  But a seven-year-old asking for more seafood will make you do crazy things, so I asked my daughter Samantha if she wanted to try scallops.  As it turns out, they are easier to cook than I thought.  Initially I couldn’t find a recipe for basic seared scallops (other than just cooking them in a little butter, of course), when low and behold I picked up the package of Archer Farms Sea Scallops at Target and saw the perfect Samantha-friendly recipe on the back of the bag.  She loved them.  I cut the amount of butter, salt, and sugar in half, so here is my version.

Seared Sea Scallops

1 lb wild-caught sea scallops (about 20)

2 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Drain scallops and dry on paper towels (they need to be dry to get a good sear).  Mix salt and sugar in a small bowl, then sprinkle half of mixture over scallops.  Melt 1 tbsp butter over medium high heat in a large skillet (I used a cast-iron pan).  Place scallops in skillet, seasoned side down, and cook 3 minutes.  Flip scallops and sprinkle with remaining salt/sugar mixture, cooking another 3 minutes, until browned on both sides.

Remove scallops to a plate and keep warm.  Add wine to the hot pan and scrape up browned bits to create a syrup.  Turn off the heat and add remaining butter and parsley, then pour over scallops.

Spicy Shrimp & Feta Pizza

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Spicy Shrimp & Feta Pizza

I’ve been playing with the new pizza stone I got for my birthday — pizza on the grill is amazing and makes for such an easy dinner.  My daughter Samantha actually made the request for a shrimp pizza (yes, I was thrilled), so we decided on shrimp, feta, and grilled yellow bell peppers (for my half).  I’ve previously written about all the delicious ingredients I’ve picked up at Oil & Vinegar at Watters Creek, and this was the perfect opportunity to put my two latest purchases to use:  Peperoncini Oil, and the “Hot Shot” spice grinder.  The Peperoncini Oil is light and flavorful with just a bit of spice.  The Hot Shot spice grinder contains all kinds of wonderful things:  chili pepper flakes, sea salt, mustard seed, coriander, onion, garlic, and paprika, to name a few.

We brushed the pizza crust with the oil, then topped with a bit of tomato sauce.  Next we added cooked shrimp, grilled bell peppers, a little shredded cheese (a 4-cheese blend), and lots of feta cheese.  Finished it off with a generous amount of the Hot Shot spices (only on my half!).  Delicious.

Peperoncini Oil & Hot Shot

Red Lentil Pancakes

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Red Lentil Pancakes

I like how virtuous and healthy I feel when purchasing something like lentils.  Until now, every package of lentils I have bought has sat in my pantry until I threw it away — not healthy and certainly not virtuous!  I came across this really simple recipe for red lentil pancakes from Wendy Van Wagner and finally decided to give dried lentils a try.  You soak the lentils overnight and then buzz them in the food processor with a few other ingredients before pan-frying.  They were really tasty with the turmeric and cilantro, but a bit dry, so take her advice to use them for dunking — I served mine with plain greek yogurt and a big salad…perfect.

Red Lentil Pancakes (Adapted from Wendy Van Wagner):

1 cup red lentils

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground pepper

2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro, or to taste (I used twice this amount)

2 tbsp coconut oil for frying

Rinse the lentils well and place in a large bowl.  Cover with 2 cups warm water and soak for least 8 hours, or overnight.

Drain the water and place lentils in food processor.  Blend until smooth, adding 1 tbsp of water at a time to make a smooth batter (I used 3 tbsp in total).  Blend the salt, turmeric, pepper, and cilantro into the batter.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, and add 1 tbsp oil.  Drop spoonfuls of batter to make 4 pancakes, about 3-4 inches wide and 1 inch thick.  Cook about 2 minutes, until set.  Drizzle a little oil over the top and sides before flipping (I struggled with this and just sprayed a bit of olive oil spray before flipping) and cook another minute or 2 or the other side.  Repeat with 2nd batch of pancakes, adding more oil as needed.

Serve warm with a big helping of greek yogurt, sour cream, guacamole, applesauce, chutney, or creme fraiche.  Makes about 8 pancakes.

Goat Cheese & Chive Omelette with Roasted Potatoes

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Goat Cheese Omelette and Roasted Potatoes

One of my current obsessions is the goat cheese omelette with herbs at Bonnie Ruth’s restaurant in Watters Creek.  Sadly, I haven’t been there in a couple of weeks, so I figured I could attempt one at home.  I was also motivated by the fact that my daughter Samantha has started stealing all the goat cheese off my salad at Bonnie Ruth’s, so it was a good opportunity to make something she would love for dinner too.

I used Allison Fishman’s herbed omelet with goat cheese recipe as a rough guide.  The omelette at Bonnie Ruth’s is brimming with tarragon, which I didn’t have, so I went with chives.  And I wouldn’t dare try to replicate Bonnie Ruth’s amazing french fries, so I made a simple side of roasted baby Yukon gold potatoes.  All in all, I was quite happy with my first omelette attempt.  I definitely got my goat cheese fix, but as I’m typing this, I’m now craving the real thing (french fries and all), so we will be heading back to Bonnie Ruth’s soon.  Hey, I tried, right?

Goat Cheese and Chive Omelette

1 tbsp butter

5 eggs

2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs

Salt and pepper, to taste

1.5 oz fresh goat cheese

Preheat the broiler.  Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium ovenproof skillet.  Combine the eggs, herbs, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and beat lightly.  Add to the skillet and let the eggs begin to set, about 2 minutes.  Crumble the goat cheese over the eggs, then put the skillet under the broiler for about 1 minute, until the eggs are set.  Fold in half.  Serves 2 adults and 1 seven-year old.

Roasted Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes

1 lb baby Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp paprika

Generous sprinkle of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Toss all ingredients on a baking sheet and roast for about 20-25 minutes, turning half way through.  Serves 4.