Archives for July 2016

For the Love of Tomatoes by Heidi Kise

My love for tomatoes developed at a young age. Undoubtedly our family garden had a little something do with it. We had an enormous garden every year that was home to everything from radishes to potatoes and always a plethora of tomatoes. My Dad was the main caretaker for this masterpiece. He was meticulous about the layout, spacing and weeding. He carefully and masterfully nurtured our garden all summer long. All of us kids begrudgingly helped out here and there. Enjoying the harvest as a family was the part we all loved. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of enjoying my Dad’s harvest of tomatoes will concur that his tomatoes are a little slice of heaven. I still savor each and every tomato that he gives me, often eating it with just a little sea salt. When I think back to those harvest days, I think of dinner on the patio that includes of my mom’s cucumber salad, BLTs, and cantaloupe. Still a favorite summertime meal of mine.

HeidiTomatoes1Having my own real garden for the very first time this summer has been a fun and interesting experience for my family. Everyone had a chance to choose a few items to plant…cucumbers for Katie, beans for Leo, zucchini for Ken and tomatoes for everyone! The kids, my Dad, my neighbors and the internet have helped plant our garden and we have watched plants grow, blossom, and bear fruit. Tonight the kids ate freshly plucked organic beans from the garden, raw. They were over the moon excited and my daughter asked if she could take them to school in her lunch. In addition to the beans, ironically, my Dad was here today to see the very first ripe tomato plucked from our garden! Thanks to my Dad, I know what ripe tastes like. And thanks to my Dad, my kids will also know where their food comes from and know what a real tomato tastes like.

Produce like this, eaten at its prime, needs little to dress it up. One of my favorite things to make is a batch of basil oil to enhance mayo for a BLT or to drizzle over either prosciutto and melon or tomato caprese. Take 10 minutes to make a batch and let me know how you like to use it!

Basil Oil
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup basil leaves, packed
  2. ½ cup grapeseed oil
  3. 1/8 t. kosher salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, add a cup of ice and fill with cold water.
  2. Drop basil leaves in small pot of boiling water and turn off heat.
  3. Immediately remove basil from hot water, strain and plunge into the prepared ice bath.
  4. After a few minutes, strain basil and squeeze dry between two dinner plates.
  5. Add basil, oil and salt to your blender. Blend until smooth.
Notes
  1. I like to use this flavorful oil as is unless I’m catering a fancy party, then I strain the beautiful, bright green oil through a cheese cloth.
  2. Store in refrigerator in a mason jar for up to 3 days.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

A “Go-To” Birthday Cake by Rita Cevaal

I have two kinds of recipes that I cook from. One is a collection that I go to automatically; it contains recipes that are quick and easy and family recipes that I have been making for decades – my “go-tos.” The other collection has more elaborate recipes that require more time and ingredients, saved for special occasions.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 2.22.42 PMI have a recipe that you will want to add to your “go-to” collection of recipes. It is quick and easy, looks beautiful, and of course it’s delicious! When reading Bon Appetit last spring this Raspberry Ricotta Cake caught my eye not only because it looked so cute but also because the ingredients were items I had at home. It makes a 9” round pan (you can also make it square, but it is prettier in a round).  It is the perfect size when you need to bring a dessert somewhere, it does not need any embellishment, and you can make it throughout the year since it uses frozen raspberries. No mixer required. It’s so easy. It’s delicious. It’s a pretty cake. It has become “the” cake for our birthdays here at Marcel’s. Try it, you will not be disappointed.

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake
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Ingredients
  1. nonstick vegetable oil spray
  2. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 2 t. baking powder
  5. 3/4 t. kosher salt
  6. 3 large eggs
  7. 1 1/2 cups ricotta
  8. 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  9. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  10. 1 cup frozen raspberries or blackberries, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup raspberries, taking care not to crush berries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup raspberries over top.
  3. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
Notes
  1. Do Ahead: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
  2. You can also make this in 2 6” round cake pans. Reduce baking time to 40-50 minutes.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Cooking Not By The Book by Paul Lindemuth

I grew up in the kitchen watching my parents and grandparents make dinner every night by simply taking the ingredients on hand and cooking them with the techniques they knew. The ingredients were as familiar as the steps necessary to create a finished dinner.

Today, things are different, given the overwhelming array of ingredients available and a fraction of the time we have for meal preparation. I own several hundred cookbooks and I enjoy researching, reading and cooking from them when I have the luxury of time. But after a long workday, we lack the energy to look up a recipe and search for the often long list of ingredients before you ever pick up a knife or turn on the stove.

We can streamline our time in the kitchen by eliminating the search for a recipe and the necessary ingredients. Once you understand that most recipes are only variations on techniques, you can eliminate the need for a cookbook and focus on those techniques.

Master the basics. For example, after learning to sear a steak, you’ll know that the same method works for scallops, salmon and pork tenderloin. You never need to look at a recipe again. You can vary the look and final flavor of these dishes with a pan sauce, salsa and herb butter.

PastaTomUnderstanding quick and easy techniques allows you to prepare fresh, creative weeknight fare.  Think about pappardelle pasta with a fresh tomato sauce quickly prepared while the pasta water comes to a boil.  Jazz up that simple tomato sauce with capers and olives or roasted shrimp.

A quickly prepared appetizer can be put together with three ingredients, like puff pastry spirals with pesto and cheese, rolled up, sliced and baked. Make a few extra rolls and keep them in the freezer. Add a salad of baby arugula, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. You can easily expand the flavors by swapping out acids and other oils or with the additions of toasted nuts and shaved Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese.

Sure, I love to peruse my growing collection of cookbooks and love cooking from them when I have the time. But every night dinner is so much simpler when those books stay on the shelf.

Golden Chicken Breasts with Tomato-Avocado-Chili Relish

Golden Chicken Breasts with Tomato-Avocado-Chili Relish
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Ingredients
  1. 4 medium-size boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 1 1/2 pounds total
  2. 3/4 t. salt
  3. freshly ground black pepper
  4. 3 to 4 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  5. 1 small hot chili, seeded, finely chopped
  6. juice of 1/2 fresh lime
  7. 2 to 4 T. chopped fresh cilantro, chives or basil
  8. 1 or 2 small ripe avocados, halved, pitted, diced
  9. 1 or 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  10. 3 to 4 shallots or green onions, finely chopped
  11. 1 cup dry white wine, dry vermouth or chicken broth
  12. 3 to 4 T. unsalted butter
  13. cilantro sprigs for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Slide an ovenproof serving platter into the oven to heat.
  2. Put each chicken breast between 2 sheets of heavy plastic wrap. Use the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet to pound the chicken until uniformly 1/2-inch thick. Repeat to pound all the chicken pieces. Season on both sides with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.
  3. For the relish, mix tomatoes, chili, lime juice and cilantro in a small bowl. Gently stir in avocado. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; cook until golden, 1 or 2 minutes. Move shallots to one side of pan. Add chicken in a single, uncrowded layer. (Work in batches if chicken does not fit comfortably.) Cook without turning over on medium to medium-high heat until golden, about 4 minutes. Flip chicken; cook until golden on second side, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove chicken to the heated platter.
  5. Add wine to skillet; heat to a boil. Scrape all the browned bits up off the bottom of the pan. Boil gently until mixture has reduced to about 2 tablespoons liquid, about 2 minutes. Carefully add any accumulated juice from chicken platter to the skillet. Working over low heat, whisk in butter until smooth (do not boil the sauce). Taste for seasoning.
  6. Pour pan sauce over chicken; top with relish. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.
Adapted from Dinner at Home Cookbook
Adapted from Dinner at Home Cookbook
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/