Lemon Butter Icing

January 13, 2008

Lemon, butter, sugar … goodness gracious! You can put this on anything, including cardboard! SAM

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice plus additional if necessary
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a mixer bowl on high speed, beat confectioner’s sugar, butter, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until smooth. If necessary for easy spreading, add additional lemon juice 1 teaspoon at a time.
Makes 1 cup or enough for one 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Sour Cream Spice Cake

January 12, 2008

An easy loaf cake full of spice and zest. It’s really lovely. SAM

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream (1 cup)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Lemon Butter Icing (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degreesF. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamon, and allspice. Stir in the orange and lemon zest. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. Beating at a low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. Remove the beaters and stir in the walnuts by hand. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack. Ice with Lemon Butter Icing.
Makes 8 servings.

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Chives

January 11, 2008

Many foods get better with double cooking, refried beans, for instance, and biscotti. But Twice-Baked Potatoes are my favorite! They’re so creamy and smooth and warm. The perfect comfort food! SAM

PS Michael’s photo? It’s a chive blossom.

2 large baking potatoes
Olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream or half-and-half
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried or fresh snipped chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Rub the potatoes thoroughly with oil, place on the oven rack, and bake at 400 degrees F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. Cut off the top of each potato lengthwise and scoop out the insides, leaving 1/4 inch shell against the skin. Press the insides through a potato ricer into a small bowl or beat with an electric mixer, and add the butter, ricotta, cream, bread crumbs, chives, parsley, paprika, 1 tablespoon Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
Stuff the potato mixture into the empty shells and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon Parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees for an additional 20 minutes.
Makes 2 servings.

Salmon Mousse

January 10, 2008

So elegant and refined no one will ever suspect you made it in a flash. SAM

2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can salmon, drained with juices reserved
1 cup mixed liquid (reserved salmon juices plus water)
2 medium center stalks celery with leaves, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 small sweet onion, quartered
1/2 medium cucumber, scored, seeded, and chopped (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 2 lemons (6 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
Freshly ground white pepper to taste

In a small saucepan over very low heat, warm the mixed liquid or microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let stand until dissolved, about 5 minutes, and stir to blend. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the celery, onion, cucumber, parsley, cream, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the salmon, gelatin-liquid mixture, dill weed, and pepper and process until smooth. Pour into a lightly greased 5 1/2 cup mold and chill until firm, 6 hours or overnight. Unmold onto a serving plate and garnish with parsley.
Makes 8 servings.

Greek Dressing

January 9, 2008

Spicy, fun, and inviting … this dressing is perfect for many fabulous salads. SAM

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small glass, combine the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice, beating vigorously with a fork until an emulsion forms. Add the parsley, oregano, coriander seeds, salt, and pepper and mix well. Pour immediately over Greek Salad or salad greens.
Makes 2/3 cup or 4 servings.

Greek Salad

January 8, 2008

The better the feta the better this salad will be. Try to find a creamy, French sheep’s milk kind. It makes all the difference. SAM

2 medium heads romaine lettuce, shredded (4 cups)
1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Greek Dressing (recipe tomorrow)
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
12 Greek olives
4 large pickled peppers
Freshly ground white peppercorns

In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes. Toss with Greek Dressing and top with feta, olives, peppers, and ground peppercorns.
Makes 4 servings.

Whole Wheat Olive Tart

January 7, 2008

In this simple tart, the rich flavors of black olives, onions, and pine nuts are perfectly balanced by the satisfying goodness of whole wheat and cornmeal. It’s one of my favorite suppers. SAM

For the crust:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons ice water
4 tablespoons olive oil

For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup pitted kalamata or oil-cured olives
1 ounce toasted pine nuts
Freshly ground white pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan or 10-inch oval gratin dish and set aside.

In a large chef’s pan over medium heat, sweat the onion in 1 tablespoon oil until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, cornmeal, and salt. Make a well in the center. In a small juice glass, combine the water and oil. Beat with a fork or small whisk until emulsified. Pour into the flour well and stir with the fork until mixture forms a ball. Knead two or three times. Place in the center of the prepared pan and with your knuckles press across the bottom and up the sides. Prick the bottom with a fork, blind bake for 15 minutes, and set aside.

Smear the bottom of the crust with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Layer the onion, then the pine nuts, then the olives. Bake for 30 minutes. Season with pepper just before serving.
Makes 4 servings.