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The Apples are Here

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I was finally able to go apple picking this past weekend, and take a dear friend with me whose never yet experienced the joy of freshly picked apples, and the frustration when you cannot find one.

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Needless to say we didn’t give up, and ended up with some lovely apples. Not to mention some lovely snacks along the way. Nothing perks up the spirits like cider donuts and apple burritos.

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Instead of the traditional desserts I decided to start cooking, and working with, my apples in a savory way first. I can always make my apple butter and pies later. That being said, I introduce my apple stuffed pork chops and roasted potatoes with apples and halloumi.

Apple Stuffed Pork Chops (for one)

  • individual pork chop, approx an inch thick, and cut almost through halfways
  • half a small apple, sliced, with skin on
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth
  • 4 mushrooms (approx) sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp of roughly chopped fresh dill, optional (for garnish)

Start off my warming your skillet with oil and butter. You can always omit the butter, but I like the flavors of browned butter with the meat juices, it makes for a deeper flavored glaze. Stuff the pork chops with apples and place in skillet.

Make sure not to cut halfways all the way across as the top  meat piece won’t stay on well when you’re stuffing and searing the meat.

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As soon as the chops are in the pan season the top side with allspice, salt and pepper, and garlic powder. Cook for about 5-7 min a side. When flipping over for a second time, add in the mushrooms and vermouth. Cover, and let cook down for another 6 minutes.

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Uncover, and allow to sit with heat still on for 3 minutes to let some of the juices evaporate.

Serve with roasted potatoes and apples and a sprinkling of dill.

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Roasted Potatoes with Apples and Halloumi Cheese

  • Approx 4 yellow potatoes, cut into chunks
  • two apples cut into chunks with skin on (same sized chunks as the potatoes please)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • garlic cloves , crushed (as many as you like, I used about four)
  • granulated onion powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • approx 6 slices of halloumi cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix all ingredients except for Halloumi, in an oven safe container. Top with Halloumi and whatever herbs you find fit. I didn’t add any but rosemary and thyme or even some marjoram would be nice here. Please use fresh as dried wouldn’t work well in the oven and dry out too  much.

Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes unless everything is cooked through and apples are very soft and almost caramelized.

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Asparagus and Potato Tart with Honey

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Who would have thought that honey would work so well with roasted asparagus, laying lusciously  on a bed of mashed buttermilk potatoes? I did not, but then inspiration struck, and boy am I glad that it did!

I’ve been looking through my french cookbooks, and sadly, while this is something that would come from a french cookbook it was inspired by Jamie Oliver. I believe the book I was looking at was At Home with Jamie, and I saw a photo (that’s all it took), with some white asparagus laying on a very velvety mound of mashed potatoes, encompassed in some puff pastry. I thought to myself, hell, I can do that, and so I did.

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Asparagus Tart with Potatoes and Honey

  • about 16 asparagus soldiers, trimmed of the tough stems
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes ( I added buttermilk when making mine, to make sure it was extra creamy)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • salt and pepper, to taste (If mashed potatoes are not seasoned)
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • parmesan cheese, approx 1/4 cup
  • clover honey, how much you use is to your taste, or omit

Season mashed potatoes with salt and pepper, or wait to season (if not already seasoned) till it’s laid out on the pastry sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and grease. Lay out the puff pastry sheet (store bought is perfectly fine). Score the sheet so you get a 1/2 inch border. Make sure you use a sharp knife but don’t cut all the way through the pastry sheet. you can also use a fork to prick the sheet in the  middle to ensure it doesn’t get puffy with the ingredients on it.

Dollop the mashed potatoes on the sheet, making sure not to go over the border line. Smooth it out to an even layer of potatoes all around the pastry sheet.

Add the asparagus, laying them gently and closely together to make a line across the potatoes. You can add these in any lines you like: vertical, horizontal, or even diagonally. I did mine horizontally, but I rotated from left to right so it so that every other spear touched the left or the right side of the border (to get asparagus in every bite, essentially).

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. Make sure the pastry boarder is puffing but isn’t get golden. Turn up the temperature up to 400 degrees F and bake for another 5 minutes or so. Checking to make sure the edges don’t burn.

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Take out and let rest two minutes. Drizzle with honey (I used organic clover honey, but any honey flavor will work here. I expect avocado honey will be especially amazing here), then let sit for another 4-5 minutes to allow honey to get slightly absorbed. Cut into squares and serve.

Don't mind that shiny thing in the corner, that's my knife. I couldn't resist a bite!

Don’t mind that shiny thing in the corner, that’s my knife. I couldn’t resist a bite!

Warm Potato and Salmon Salad with Blue Cheese

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I haven’t been a salad person, but lately I’ve been finding myself almost eagerly awaiting lunch or dinner so I can create a hearty and delicious salad. I think wilted leaves and over salted dressings are the reason for my past dislike of salads, but anything you create at home will be better than what it was when you went out. That’s a guarantee. This guarantee has allowed me to be a salad person again. It feels great.

The idea for this salad came from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook. He has a similar dish, in which a large plate is lined with smoked salmon, and warm potatoes are laid out on top to be eaten after being dressed in oil, vinegar, spices, and dolloped with a horseradish sauce. Overall, the dish is amazing, and I did make it earlier this week. The smoked salmon and potatoes went so well together that I wanted to recreate the dish, but use more ingredients, specifically those I bought earlier in the week, and I knew I had to use.

This led me to a marvelous salad. Honestly, I’m quite proud. Not only was this salad super filling, but it was unbelievably healthy. I think the healthiest thing I’ve ever made.

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Warm Potato, Salmon and Blue Cheese Salad

  • fingerling potatoes, enough for one (I think I used about 6 for myself, and cut them in half)
  • approx 1 handful of micro greens of your choice (I used micro kale)
  • 2-3oz of smoked salmon
  • few sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • about 1 cup of baby heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 oz blue cheese of choice, cut up into bite sized, dollop-able pieces

Boil a pot of water for the potatoes. Salt the water and add the potatoes, if you cut them in half they will cook faster, about 9 minutes or so. Test with a knife to make sure they are done and soft all the way through.

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In a bowl add the micro greens and dill. Mix with your hands to make sure the dill is more or less evenly distributed. Using your hands, rip the salmon into bite-sized pieces and place on top of the greens.

In a separate bowl, add the oil, salt and pepper, garlic, and vinegar. This will be the bowl the warm potatoes will be added to.

Start prepping the tomatoes and add to the greens as the potatoes are cooking.

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When the potatoes are done drain and let sit for about two minutes to make sure they aren’t scalding. Add to the vinegar and oil bowl and mix. Add them to the salad, making sure the oil and vinegar and garlic bits are all in the salad bowl. This will be a type of dressing. You don’t need much since the salmon is equally oily.

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Attempt to mix together as quickly as possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Dollop the blue cheese on top and enjoy!

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Rabbit Organs in Garlic Cream with Sauteed Root Veggies and Pancetta

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As Rabbits come with organs, usually, at least they have them, as most living beings, you have to figure out how to cook them. Of course, you could throw them out, but honestly, rabbit liver is the best I’ve ever had. In any case, if you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and give this recipe a try if you’ve got some rabbit organs, and don’t know what to do with them. Use it up quickly, do not refreeze them!

This recipe is for one.

This will use up 1 liver, 2 kidneys, and 1 heart that comes with the rabbit. Although, I found a lung with my rabbit, I discarded that because I remember my grandmother telling me that (for some reason) lungs are not clean to eat.

I have to say, although I’m not a 100% liver fan, but I enjoy the occasional chicken liver pate, this liver was amazing. It’s not the same taste and about the same texture. Only silkier, smoother, much milder. Perfect over pasta, although I opted for veggies and potatoes. In total, this was enough to feed only 1 person, if you want to feed two I recommend you cut the liver in half and add it to pasta, with pancetta, or another salty meat, and carrots, peas, or lima beans to be more filling.

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Rabbit Organs in Garlic Cream with Sauteed Veggies 

  • 1 rabbit heart, 1 rabbit liver, and 2 rabbit kidneys (fresh, make sure they are no more than 3 days old out of packaging)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 baby potatoes quartered
  • 4 baby carrots, cut into thirds
  • 1/2 a celery stalk, cut in half, and into thirds
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 oz chopped pancetta (my butcher had pancetta so I was lucky enough to ask for 1/4 inch thick slice- if you’re this lucky I used half of a slice, cubbed)
  • Parsley, for garnish

Add oil to pan and heat. Add potatoes, carrots, and celery, season with salt and pepper and any other seasonings you would like. Cayanne works really well with Rabbit liver. Add in pancetta and brown, about 6 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of water to hot pan and cover. This will steam the veggies and ensure they cook faster.

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I added some cayanne, although that wasn’t part of the original plan when I first started cooking, and the spice paired nicely with the cream sauce, and the silky liver.

To another pan, add garlic and melt on medium-low heat. Add in the organs and season with salt and pepper. Brown for 3 minutes a side. Add garlic to the oil and allow to golden, swish the oil around the pan to make sure the garlic pieces and the,now, garlic infused oils are coating the meat.

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Lower heat and cook for 2 more minutes. When potatoes are done (check with a fork or knife to your liking), place on plate and add the meat. Put meat pan back on heat, and turn it up to high. Add in the heavy cream with a pinch of salt. Allow to simmer for 30 seconds, just enough time to pick up some garlic, meat bits, and thicken. Pour over meat.

you can add a splosh of red wine right before you simmer the meat for 2 minutes (as shown here) for added flavor.

you can add a splosh of red wine right before you simmer the meat for 2 minutes (as shown here) for added flavor.

Rip bits of parsley over the dish as garnish.

This is a very filling but light dish. There is maybe 3 oz or so of meat, so you’re eating basically veggies with butter and cream fat. Especially when eating celery and carrots, it’s important to add fat to your diet, to ensure that the nutrients are properly absorbed. I read that in women’s health- and it’s always stuck with me. I think it’s because it justifies me dipping my baby carrots into ranch whenever I “feel like being healthy”. Don’t judge.

This dish came to a total of about 327 calories, perfect for dinner for one. Enjoy!

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Indian Roasted Potatoes

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I was flipping through Nigella’s Kitchen, and I saw that  it’s been a good long while since I’ve made my favorites from her collection. I’m usually inspired by her recipes and while I’ve made her Indian Roasted Potatoes in their original state before, I’ve decided to take my own spin on her classic.

  • 2 lbs yellow potatoes (washed and cut into cubes)
  • 2 tbsp olive oils
  • 2 tsp nigella seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • salt
  • half a garlic head
  • 1 lime
  • 1 medium leek

Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with foil, and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Take a simple ziplock bag and add the oil and spices.

Add the potatoes to the bag. Close the bag and shake and roll it around to coat all of the potatoes in the aromatic mixture.  Dump the whole thing onto the roasting dish you’ve prepared along with the garlic (you can bruise the garlic, or leave it whole with skins intact, regardless,  it’ll be delicious), season with salt to taste, and place into the oven for about 50 minutes.

If you’ve never worked with leeks before, they’re the easiest way to get an onion flavor into the dish, with great green color, and no stinging juices in the air. First, you take off about 1/2 the white roots, leaving the rest of the white part in-tact.  Then you cut off the bulk of the green, tough, and dry bits. You should be left with about 4-5 inches of greenery. You take the first layer and chuck in the garbage.

Leeks are dirty because they grown in the ground, don’t worry, just have the faucet ready as you strip each layer down and rinse it at you go. Then you line them up and cut into 1/4 inch rings.

Place the leeks in a bowl with the juice of one lime and let marinade till the potatoes are ready.

When it’s time to take the potatoes out stir in the leeks and leave in oven with the temperature off for 10 minutes. Stir once more before serving!

 

 

For Dessert I made my lovely Blondies (also from Nigella’s Kitchen, and which I’ve already blogged about in previous months).

 

Martha’s Cookie of the Month and Dinner

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Martha Stewart Living for April came with a cookie of the month. That cookie was the Nutty Butters Cookie.  I’ve always wanted to make a peanut butter cookie and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. Although it’s been a while since I baked, and a while since I did much of anything (what with grad school applications and work) in the kitchen.

In any case, I got the baking bug, and I knew I had to give my kitchenaid another whirl. I’ve been itching to use it for a month or so, but never thought to use it aside from muffins. And those were better served by a mixing bowl with a fork (chocolate banana muffins). Still, today was my day, and I was able to make my these lovely cookies a reality.

Total time: 1 hr 15 min

makes: 24 delicious cookies

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup nut butter of your choice (I used peanut butter)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (to match the butter)

Melt 1/2 stick butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add oats and cook, stirring, until toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Spread oat mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet, let cool.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. Beat together remaining stick butter and the sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg, and beat until combined. Add nut butter, and beat on medium speed until well combined.

thick goodness

Add oat mixture and chopped nuts, and beat on low speed until combined. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place cookies 1 inch apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden, 12-15 minutes. Let cook completely on baking sheets.

Along with these yummy cookies I made dinner, FoodNetwork Magazines: Light Scalloped Potatoes with Roasted Chiles served as my inspiration. I gave myself Friday’s as days to go crazy with the food, so I knew that since it was Saturday night it had to be a “lite” form of something, and potatoes are always my staple. Potatoes and chicken. This Saturday was no acception.

scalloped potatoes with roasted chiles and sticky lime chicken

For the potatoes:

  • 1 medium poblano chile pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 pounds new, yellow potatoes, sliced into discs
  • 2 cans chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup grated pepper jack cheese

Starting with the chile: wash it and dry it off slightly. Turn a burner on for medium-high heat and place the Chile on the grate, as shown in the image. Make sure that you keep turning it every 2 minutes or so till it’s charred, and completely black. Place on a wet paper towel and cover. Let cool.

been charring for about 5 minutes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a baking dish. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, chicken stock, cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste and bring to a boil (I used more salt, and it was sea). Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring gently, until the potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes.

By this time the chile should be cooled. Skin it, under cold water if preferred, and pat dry. Slice into strips and then into cubes.

Arrange half the potato-broth mixture int he prepared baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle with the poblano chile pieces and the pepper jack cheese. Repeat with another later of potatoes and the parmesan on top. Bake until bubble and slightly golden, about 35 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

delicious!

For the chicken:

  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • pepper
As soon as the potatoes go into the oven lower the temperature to 375 degrees. Arrange the chicken in a shallow roasting pan. Put the lime zest and juice, honey, oil, garlic, and oregano into a small bowl and mix. Spoon the mixture over the chicken to coat completely.
Roast the chicken in the oven for 35-40 minutes, basting about halfway. Take the chicken out and serve with the potatoes, which should have rested for about 10-15 minutes by now. Add 1/4 cup port to the roasting dish to de-glaze, place back in oven. Turn the temperature up to 475 and cook for 4 minutes. Spoon over the chicken.

Mock Buttermilk Chicken Breast

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That's a piece of roasted garlic stuck into the chicken, for fun of course.

You might be wondering what is “mock” in this recipe… is it the chicken? Is it the buttermilk? And yes, it is the buttermilk. I didn’t have on hand, so I went online and looked up what can be done for a decent substitute. Although the 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon either lemon juice or vinegar (I used lemon juice) didn’t curdle the milk in the 10 minute sitting period, it was still a tasty chicken breast.

1 cup buttermilk (or use my method above)

2 chicken breasts, about 3 lbs total meat

salt and pepper

equal teaspoons of mustard seeds, cumin, nutmeg and chili flakes

2 cloves garlic, peeled, and cut in half

olive oil
Allow the marinade to sit for about 30 minutes, so don’t preheat the oven just yet.

For the marinade:

spices, garlic, salt and pepper, chicken and buttermilk should be placed in a ziplock bag and thrashed around a bit to get the chicken completely covered. Place in fridge (in a bowl to reduce possibility of leakage) for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chicken without shaking off any of the marinade in an oven safe container.

Drizzle with olive oil and place in oven for about 20 minutes.Internal temp should be about 135-140 degrees depending on how thick your chicken breast slice is.

My handy little meat thermometer sticking out

Serve with rice, cause that’s what I did. But I’m assuming potatoes would be lovely as well.