Archives for April 2015

Kitchens Without Borders by Paul Lindemuth

Many cooks, both home and professional alike, have for several years embraced the philosophy of eating foods locally grown as often as possible, and cooking seasonally with fresh ingredients as they appear naturally and not shipped halfway around the world to a giant supermarket. Those focuses are easier to follow with the pending return of our local farmer’s markets and CSA boxes that we subscribe to.

We have enjoyed the plethora of global cuisines and perhaps dabbled in “fusion” cooking, where mutli-cultural influences blend to form an inspired menu.

But maybe we don’t want or have time to prepare an entire Thai or Mexican or Indian menu, and are looking for a little inspiration to put a new flavor dimension into a family favorite recipe or when we tackle that weekly CSA box.

Sambal Oelek

Asian Chili Paste

Thinking outside the box (quite literally) can yield some new perspectives while we cook. Using just one ingredient that is indigenous to an ethnic cuisine can sometimes singlehandedly give a new dimension and depth to a recipe; a sprinkle of ground cardamom on roasted sweet potatoes, a teaspoon of Chinese chili paste in some braised lentils, curry powder added to your butternut squash soup, a few roasted, peeled and diced poblano chiles folded into your mashed potatoes.

Your kitchen may have four walls but they are not borders. Explore the world of flavor with your creativity and some ingredients you already have on hand.

Braised Lentils
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ cups French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
  2. 3 T. olive oil
  3. 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  4. 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  5. 2 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
  6. 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  7. 1 t. dried thyme
  8. 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  9. ½ to 1 t. Chinese chili paste
  10. ½ to ¾ cup chicken broth
  11. salt
  12. freshly ground black pepper
  13. 3 T. chopped fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over moderate heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the lentils for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large casserole warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Sauté until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the lentils and their cooking liquid, the garlic, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and chili paste. Stir in enough chicken broth to cover the lentils. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.
  5. Cover the casserole and bake until the lentils are just tender, about 30 minutes.
  6. Stir in the chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Incredible Cheese Biscuits

Incredible Cheese Biscuits
Yields 36
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  2. 1 cup butter, melted
  3. 1 cup sour cream*
  4. 2 cups self-rising flour or 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3 t. baking powder and 1 t. salt
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425. Mix all the ingredients together, and spoon into mini muffin pans a tablespoon at a time. Bake 10 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.
  2. Remove from the oven, and cool for 5 minutes on wire racks.
Notes
  1. *The recipe is best with regular sour cream, but if you use reduced fat, the texture will be softer.
  2. Can be prepared ahead and frozen for up to a month. Thaw on counter, and reheat wrapped in foil for 10 minutes or until warmed through if desired. Also completely delicious eaten at room temperature.
Adapted from Desperation Dinners by Alicia Ross
Adapted from Desperation Dinners by Alicia Ross
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Dana’s Dogs

My official job title at Marcel’s is “retail manager” but I actually wear another hat as well.  I’m responsible for finding and selecting new merchandise for the shop – the “buyer.”  When you walk into Marcel’s and see some new, fabulous unique item that you simply can’t live without, chances are it is something that I’ve found while flipping through vendor catalogs or scrolling the Internet – Pinterest, Etsy, etc…  Or perhaps it is something that Jill and I discovered on one of our trips to the various housewares or home and gift shows we attend a few times each year.

If I happen to notice your delighted reaction upon discovery, I’ve been known to look around at my coworkers and exclaim “Who’s  the buyer? Who’s the buyer?” while pointing at myself.  Yes, I actually do that and yet surprisingly, we have very little staff turnover.

In the interest of full disclosure, sometimes I just don’t get it right…. We call them “Dana’s Dogs.”  Ouch!  

  • Lime green jingle bell candle holders
  • Giant mossy carrots
  • The “Spifter”
  • The olive plucker
IMG_0687

Lime Green Jingle Bell Candle Stick

I could go on but it’s becoming painful. Every order I write lands on Jill’s desk awaiting final approval.  We usually concur and her faith in me makes my job an absolute joy, but once in awhile my phone will ring and I’ll hear “Dana, seriously?  These carrots are two feet long!” or “Who needs a Spifter?  What is this thing?” or my personal favorite “SHEEP?????”

 The truth is, if I really believe in a product, Jill will usually let me try it.  If it ends up nestled in the SALE wall, the wonderful gals I work with get to to enjoy the sound of my eating crow.  It balances nicely with “Who’s the buyer?”

Stop in soon.  I’d love to show you a fabulous moss sheep…

Lemon Ginger Scones

Lemon Ginger Scones
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups flour
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 2 1/2 t. baking powder
  4. 1/2 t. baking soda
  5. 3/4 t. salt
  6. 3/4 cup butter
  7. 3/4 cup crystallized ginger
  8. 1 t. lemon zest
  9. 1 cup buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Blend dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender. Stir in ginger and zest. Make a well in the center and add buttermilk. Stir until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Do not over-mix.
  3. Pat out on lightly floured surface until 1/2”-3/4” thick. Cut into scones. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush top with milk or cream, then sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 min. or until barely golden.
Notes
  1. Flavor variations: dried blueberries and lime zest; dried cranberries and orange zest; chocolate chips or raisins
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Key Lime Pie (or Tart)

Key Lime Pie (or Tart)
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For the crust
  1. ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  2. 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  3. 1 T. sugar
  4. 1 ½ t. cinnamon
For the Filling
  1. 5 large egg yolks
  2. 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  3. Juice from 6-8 Key limes, about 2/3 c. (or bottled Key lime juice)
  4. Whipped cream for serving.
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
For Crust
  1. Mix butter, graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pat the mixture onto bottom and sides of a 9” pie pan. Bake 8 min. Set aside; let cool completely.
For the filling
  1. Beat the yolks in a food processor or hand mixer about 2 minutes. Add condensed milk to yolks; process or beat until incorporated. Add the lime juice. Process or beat 2 additional minutes. Pour into pie shell. Bake until set, 10-15 min.; cool on wire rack 1 hour. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap set directly on top of the curd, at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream.
Notes
  1. To make a Key Lime Tart: Make 1 ½ recipe crust. Use a 10” tart pan, with removable bottoms, or several smaller tart pans. Follow directions as for pie.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Flourless Almond & Coconut Cake

Flourless Almond & Coconut Cake
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Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup butter
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 1/2 cup milk
  5. 1 t. vanilla
  6. 1 1/2 cups almond meal
  7. 1/2 cup coconut flour
  8. 2 t. baking powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs (one at a time), mixing until incorporated. Add milk and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond meal, coconut flour, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The cake should be golden brown and starting to pull away from the sides. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so.
  4. Once cool (in the pan or out of the pan, either works), chill the cake in the refrigerator. It is VERY moist and needs to chill slightly to firm up.
Notes
  1. This cake is gluten free.
  2. Delicious (and gorgeous) topped with macerated strawberries. (Simply slice strawberries, sprinkle with sugar, stir and let sit until juices are released)
Adapted from Food 52 / Bob's Red Mill
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
Yields 10
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Ingredients
  1. 2 lb. asparagus, ends removed
  2. 2 t. olive oil
  3. 1 lemon, zested
  4. Small wedge of parmesan cheese
  5. 10 slices of prosciutto
  6. kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add a couple of teaspoons of salt to the water. Prepare ice bath. Plunge asparagus into boiling water for 1 minute. Immediately strain and put asparagus into ice bath. Let chill for 10 minutes and remove and dry.
  3. Put asparagus in a bowl, coat with 2 t olive oil, lemon zest and ½ t salt.
  4. Wrap 6-7 asparagus spears with prosciutto to form a bundle. Place on sheet tray. Heat in oven for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Using a peeler, shave curls of parmesan cheese.
  6. Place asparagus bundle onto plate and top with parmesan curls.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Leek Fritters with Lemon Cream Sauce

Leek Fritters with Lemon Cream Sauce
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For the fritters
  1. 2 lbs leeks, pale green & white parts only (or use 1 lb. leeks and 1 lb. cooked vegetables like carrots, potatoes, summer squash, beets, zucchini)
  2. salt
  3. 2 scallions, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  4. ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  5. 1 t. baking powder
  6. freshly ground black pepper
  7. pinch cayenne
  8. 1 egg
  9. vegetable oil, for frying
For the cream
  1. ½ cup sour cream
  2. 1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  3. pinch freshly grated lemon zest
  4. salt
Instructions
  1. Fill sink with cold water. Halve leeks lengthwise, then swish gently in water, fanning out layers to loosen any grit. Slice crosswise into 1/4-inch strips. (If using cooked vegetables, slice into 1/4-inch strips and add to bowl in Step 3.)
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook leeks 3 to 4 minutes, until softened but not limp. Drain and wring dry in a towel.
  3. Transfer leeks to a large bowl and add scallions. In another bowl, whisk together flour, 1 teaspoon salt, baking powder, a few grinds of black pepper and cayenne. Add to leeks and stir. Add egg and stir.
  4. Heat oven to 200 degrees. In a large heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until shimmering. Drop heaping tablespoons of leek mixture into skillet and lightly flatten with the back of a spatula. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes; if cooking too quickly, lower the heat. Flip fritters and cook until golden on the other side, another 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and transfer to oven.
  5. Repeat with remaining leek mixture, adding oil and adjusting heat as needed.
  6. When fritters are cooked, make cream: whisk all ingredients together and season to taste with salt. Serve warm fritters in stacks, with a dollop of cream on top.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Spring Cleaning, The Kitchen Pantry & A Spring Panzanella by Kelly Sears

Warmer weather inspires us to open the windows, regroup, reorganize, and recharge. We tackle our closets, the garage, the basement, but what about the kitchen? Your pantry shouldn’t be the resting place where half-used ingredients go to dry out. Nor the burial grounds for sad old jars of condiments, never used spices, or tubes of one-use exotic pastes. What’s in your cupboards and pantry should be the bones of your cooking, the essential equipment, tools, and ingredients that you really need and use.

Spring-cleaning isn’t just about cleaning out crumbs, scrubbing the stove, or tossing those suspicious containers lurking long past their expiration date. It’s about matching spring fresh ingredients to the appropriate cooking equipment, tools, and essentials.  It may be time for the Dutch oven to go down a shelf as long-cooked stews and braises that we love so much in the winter make way for lighter fare. Taking center stage, the Sauté pan, perfect for spring fresh vegetables tossed in a bit of olive oil, or for cooking up a light cheese and herb frittata. Bright colored ramekins, ready to bake off a strawberry rhubarb crisp, can make a favorite springtime dessert pop.

Think of your cupboard as your basic cooking wardrobe. New salt and herb blends, good solid balsamic vinegar and olive oil, French mustard and fresh jams combined with spring’s fresh ingredients provide the dynamic accessories that highlight the season, provide color and texture, and give you the tools make a dish your own.

sping panzanella salad

Spring Panzanella Salad with Asparagus and Egg
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Ingredients
  1. 12 ounces ciabatta or other thick stale country bread, torn into bite-size pieces
  2. Olive oil and salt
Dressing
  1. 2 oz. lemon juice
  2. 1 T. white wine vinegar
  3. 1 T. ground sumac
  4. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 4 oz. extra-virgin olive oil
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. 2 T. chopped thyme
  8. 1⁄2 t. cayenne
  9. 2 t. sugar
Vegetables
  1. Green onions, chopped
  2. Flat leaf parsley
  3. Chopped mint
  4. 6 roma tomatoes, seeded, cut into medium dice
  5. 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into medium dice
  6. 4 radishes, sliced thin, then halved
  7. 1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into small dice
  8. 12 Roasted Asparagus Spears
  9. 4-6 Eggs, hard boiled or poached
Instructions
  1. Cut ciabatta bread into small wedges, toss with the oil, salt, and black pepper, bake on a sheet pan in a 300-degree oven for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through the baking.
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients thoroughly and adjust seasoning if necessary. Reserve.
  3. Combine the vegetables with the dressing and toss until coated. Fold in the ciabatta bread. If poaching eggs, rest on top of salads once plated, if hard boiling sprinkle over salad once tossed.
  4. Adjust with salt and pepper
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

The Best Gnocchi

The Best Gnocchi
Light, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth perfection.
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Ingredients
  1. 3-4 large Idaho potatoes (2 lbs.), scrubbed
  2. 1 whole egg, beaten
  3. 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  4. 2 T. grated Parmesano-Reggiano
  5. 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 1 T. unsalted butter, melted
  7. 1 t. salt
  8. ¼ t. course ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 425°F.
  2. Prick each potato several times with a fork and place on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan large enough to hold them all in a single layer. Bake in the oven until the potatoes are tender enough to be easily pierced with a small knife (50-60 minutes).
  3. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool slightly—just enough so that you can handle them, not more. They should still be steaming when you cut them open ( about 6 to 10 minutes). (If you let the potatoes get too cold, the proteins in the egg won’t bind with the potatoes, and your gnocchi will fall apart). Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Pass the potato flesh through a food mill or press through a ricer set over a medium bowl. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the beaten egg, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, melted butter, salt, and pepper, and 1 cup of flour, reserving the rest. The mixture should be stirred only until the ingredients are combined: anything more will overwork the dough, and your gnocchi will come out tough (like the frozen-in-a-bag variety). Work the mixture into a smooth ball; if the dough seems a little too moist for this, add a touch of flour (the moisture level in every potato is different, so every batch of gnocchi will be a bit different, too).
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Working quickly, cut the dough into inch-wide slices, using a dough cutter if you’ve got one, a regular dinner-table knife if you don’t. Roll these between your hands to make them into a ball. The dough should feel soft, slightly tacky but not sticky—sort of warm and sexy. Roll out each piece into long logs (or “snakes,” as we call them in the kitchen), approximately 14” to 16” long, about ¾“ thick. (This isn’t a precise measurement. You can make your gnocchi whatever size you want) Cut each on in half and roll it out again, thinner, to the same length. Sprinkle the rolled-out snakes with flour to keep them from sticking, and keep adding more flour to the work surface as you go to help as you roll the dough. Cut each snake into gnocchi-sized pieces ( I like mine to be about 1 inch x 1 inch), and place the pieces on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover this with a cloth or plastic wrap until you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, so they don’t dry out.
  5. To Cook the Gnocchi: This step is just as important as the preparation: tender gnocchi require careful attention.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the gnocchi all at once (or as close to it as possible). Stir once gently all around, so that the water is aerated and the dough doesn’t become glued together like one big gnoccho. Let the gnocchi cook until they rise to the surface (about 1-2 minutes); wait one more minute and then, using a slotted spoon or a spider, remove the gnocchi. (Don’t ever dump the gnocchi out into a colander the way you would spaghetti: that’s a disaster. All the gnocchi crash onto each other and break.)
Notes
  1. Gnocchi are delicate little things; fresh gnocchi should be cooked the day they are made or, at the very latest, the next day. Frozen and stored in an airtight container, they’ll keep for up to a month.
  2. Serve with your choice of sauce: Tomato, Pesto, Browned Butter, Ragu...
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/