Savoring the Savory

As a confirmed nibbler, I love baked goods, particularly warm from the oven. We don’t eat a great deal of sugar in our home, but tarts and scones are always a hit. I prefer the savory scone to a sweet one, and this scone has all the markings of a moist, slightly salty and savory mouthful. I return to these again and again for something unexpected and delicious.

GRUYERE, PROSCIUTTO & GREEN ONION SCONES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup grated gruyere or Comte cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped prosciutto
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • Sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture, until you have coarse crumbs. This can also be done in a food processor with a few pulses. In using a food processor, place contents in a bowl after pulsing.
  2. In another bowl, whisk and eggs and buttermilk together. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just moist.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the gruyere, prosciutto, parmesan and green onion. Add this to the batter, then mix lightly. The dough will be sticky.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, turn the sticky dough out and knead lightly until all the cheese, prosciutto and green onion are incorporated into the dough. Roll the dough 3/4 inch thick. Shape roughly into a circle and cut 8 triangles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, and lightly brush with half and half. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Place the scones in the freezer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Once the scones have chilled, bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm.

Serves 8

“Baking is love made edible.”

Let’s Spread Hummus, Not Hate

I’ve been making hummus, the Middle-Eastern chickpea spread for decades. I am very anti commercially processed hummus. One, I dislike the consistency, and two I can make 5-6 times as much for the price of one 8 ounce container. Although I have frequently advocated for using soaked, dried chickpeas, I’ve been working at making a good hummus with canned chickpeas; and I have finally come up with the result I was looking for using a few tricks that made a significant difference. I found it amazing that using these 4 techniques made for a creamy and delicious hummus I was ready to eat and serve to others.

  • Technique #1: warm your chickpeas. I found warming my chickpeas in the microwave for about 2 minutes helped to give me the same incredible consistency I prefer when I cook the chickpeas from scratch. And lets face it there are times that time is of the essence when soaking and cooking them isn’t practical.
  • Technique #2: Save your canned liquid. The starchy liquid from canned chickpeas is called Aquafaba. It is often used by vegans as an egg substitute. Here we will use it to flavor and thin out our processed chickpeas to just the right consistency.
  • Technique #3: Patience grasshopper! Process, process, process! It is extremely important that you process your hummus for as long as it takes, which can be as long as 10 minutes! I find the time can vary quite a bit for unknown reasons. I will sometimes add 2-3 tablespoons of ice water near the end, if the consistency is at all grainy.
  • Technique #4: Taste as you go. I can’t tell you how many times when I have neglected to do this that I end up making adjustments that weren’t necessary. The two primary factors being salt and lemon juice. Once it’s added you can’t take it away.

I make hummus several times a month. I can’t get enough of it, and it’s so versatil. You can add roasted carrots, beets, avocado, or marinated artichokes to it and end up with something completely different. Lately I’ve been slightly obsessed with using it as a replacement for pasta or rice, and turning it into a dinner hummus. I have used ground lamb and topped it with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, green onions and cilantro. I have roasted a sheet pan of veggies like eggplant, zucchini and squash. You name it, and you can create a healthy topping for this classic spread. This week I used cut up boneless chicken thighs, caramelized onions and roasted cauliflower seasoned with my homemade ras el hanout https://twistedbasics.com/2019/03/16/got-the-munchies/ and was totally blown away with the result. This will definitely be on a permanent rotation in this house! Don’t be daunted by the several steps; it still comes together relatively quickly and is well worth the effort!

MIDDLE EASTERN DINNER HUMMUS

FOR THE HUMMUS:

  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained, reserving liquid from one can
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves

MAKE THE HUMMUS:

  1. Heat your drained chickpeas in a microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes. Throw the garlic down your entry shoot while your food processor is running, processing to chop it. Stop and add chickpeas, tahini, oil, 1/2 of the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, then process until a coarse paste forms, about 45 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.
  2. Slowly add the chickpea liquid and process until smooth and creamy (up to 10 minutes). Don’t rush this step. If after processing your hummus still looks granular, add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time (up to 3 tablespoons). Taste adding additional lemon juice and/or salt. This will make more than you will need for this recipe, but yay more for later. Place finished hummus in bowl and set aside.

FOR CAULIFLOWER:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut or broken into small flowerettes about 4 cups
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and ras el hanout. Place on baking sheet in one layer. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly charred around the edges.

FOR CHICKEN & ONIONS:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  1. In a medium bowl, toss chicken with ras el hanout. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. (I love my cast iron skillet for this). Add chicken in an even layer; cook, undisturbed, until the bottom of the chicken is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches. Turn over chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 4 more minutes; transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. To the same skillet reduce the heat to medium and add the sliced onion, za’atar, and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until softened, lightly brown and caramelized. Add 1/4 cup water and the raisins to the skillet, the chicken and cauliflower. Stir gently and heat until warmed through. Season with salt to taste.

FOR ASSEMBLY:

On a decorative platter, spread the hummus 1/2-3/4 inch thick to completely cover the bottom of platter. Make a well in the center of the hummus and spoon the chicken, caramelized onions and cauliflower over hummus. Top with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley. Drizzle with olive oil. Pass pita or pita chips for serve.

Serves 4

“Middle age is about getting super excited about different flavors of hummus!”

Just Stuff It!

We all enjoy comfort food in the winter, but sometimes we want our dishes to look, well, pretty. Maybe it’s a special event like a birthday or anniversary, and we have a few more mouths to feed and our time is limited. I have the answer! This dish can be made in advance, it’s attractive to serve and will feed 4-6 people. It even freezes well if you want to make a double batch. Even picky eaters seem to enjoy it, and you can sneak a green vegetable in like spinach, to make the filling more interesting. Any guesses? I’m talking about jumbo pasta shells stuffed with spinach, ricotta and pecorino cheese.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know I’m keen on putting up tomato sauce during our growing season on the farm. However, you can save time by using a good quality marinara sauce of your choice. Make sure to read your labels and make sure that it doesn’t have a lot of added sugar. You want savory not sweet sauce. If you want more heat, add a few red pepper flakes and/or minced garlic to your sauce, or maybe some fresh basil or parsley. There are many ways to amp these commercial sauces to suit your personal preferences. You can also fill each shell easily by putting your filling in a sandwich bag and snip a corner. That way you can simply pipe in the filling in each shell without making a mess of it.

STUFFED PASTA SHELLS WITH SPINACH AND RICOTTA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 20-22 jumbo pasta shells
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 16 ounce bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess moisture squeezed out
  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Lemon zest from 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for pasta water
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 16 ounce (2 cups) jar marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Chopped parsley or basil, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook the pasta shells for 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and drizzle a little olive oil to keep them from sticking together.
  3. Place the drained and squeezed spinach in a medium bowl. Combine with the ricotta, pecorino, garlic, oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, egg, sea salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper. Spoon into a plastic sandwich bag (I put the bag in a quart canning jar to hold it upright). Cut the corner of the bag when ready to pipe filling into shells.
  4. Spread 3/4 (1 1/2 cups) of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pipe the filling into each shell and place in baking dish. Repeat until all your shells are filled. Spoon a little marinara sauce over each shell and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil or parsley.

Serves 4-6

“Sometimes a little comfort food can go a long way.” –Benjamin Bratt

Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit

It’s been cold here, very cold; and there’s nothing more satisfying in winter than a warm bowl of soup. I typically make a soup at least once a week. One of my favorites is anything showcasing beans. They’re cheap, healthy and hardy. With very little forethought you can serve up a soup that will delight anyone lucky enough to dig into a bowl of it. Today let’s focus on cannellini bean soup. You can get a bag of these beans for a couple bucks, which will give you a far superior result (particularly for soups) than you will get with canned. Although soaking your beans overnight is a small extra step it will allow for a much creamier texture in the end; which is one of the hallmarks of a great bean soup.

You can approach this soup in several ways to adjust for personal preferences. For example you can use either vegetable or chicken stock. One thing I can’t emphasize enough is just how important it is to use homemade stock. We all use carton stock in a pinch, but your end result will be just that, and will taste like well, carton stock. No worries though, you won’t have a swat team coming through your windows if carton stock is all you have.

I also like near the end of simmering adding some kind of green. Here, you have many options such as spinach (fresh or frozen), kale, or Swiss chard. If you are using frozen make sure to thaw and wring out as much moisture as possible before adding it to your soup. If using kale or Swiss chard, make sure to remove the thick stems are they can be rather tough, and we want to retain some healthy green color in the end result.

As far as herbs go, you can use fresh or dried; rule of thumb being 3:1 ratio. In other words, 1 tablespoon fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried.

HARDY CANNELLINI BEAN SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in water 2 inches over the level of the beans. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to water.
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup white vermouth (the alcohol will cook out once it’s evaporated)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (homemade preferred)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Soak 2 cups dried cannellini beans overnight, covering the beans with 2 inches of water and adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the water. Drain the next day and place in a large Dutch oven or soup pot with a tightly fitting lid. Cover them with 3 inches of water and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Add 2 cloves of garlic lightly smashed, and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover leaving a little space open for the lid and lower heat to medium-low. Cook beans for 40-60 minutes, or until soft. Drain beans and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, add the diced onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, beans, tomato paste, potatoes, rosemary, thyme and paprika. Cook stirring frequently, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the vermouth, stir well and let it simmer until it has evaporated, cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Add stock of your choice, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat and cook gently for 20 minutes. When the potatoes are soft, and the soup is thick and creamy, add the greens of your choice. Stir to wilt the greens, yet keeping their color and some texture.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need additional salt, depending on your personal preferences.
  7. Ladle into bowls, and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 6-8

“Beans have a soul.” –Pythagoras

The Fungus Among Us!

In the winter there is nothing better than soup, and this soup is soul-filling! There are many approaches to mushroom soup, and they will all give you satisfying results. This approach however, has a secret ingredient that not only thickens it with added protein, but gives it a rich and wonderful rustic feel. That ingredient is chickpea flour. What? That’s right, chickpea flour. Your are free to omit it, but you will end up with a much brothyer soup.

There are several elements to this soup that are equally important; homemade stock, a variety of fresh mushrooms, and making sure that you brown the mushrooms deeply, not just saute them. Each of these elements build on the other, giving you a opulent result you will feel proud to serve your family or guests.

SAVORY MUSHROOM SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms, (such as cremini, white mushrooms, shitake, oyster or portabellas), chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes, then finely chopped, straining steeping water through a fine mesh strainer. Set aside.
  • 4 large shallots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated on micro planer
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I can’t empathize how important this is)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pour 1 cup boiling water over porcini mushrooms and let sit for 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms and chop, set aside. Strain soaking water through a fine mesh strainer, set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Stir in half of the shallots and mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10-12 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shallots and mushrooms to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining butter, olive oil, shallots and mushrooms.
  3. Pour all the mushrooms back into the pot, including the porcini’s, stir in the garlic and tomato paste, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Then stir in the thyme, rosemary, 1 teaspoon of salt, coriander, and paprika and cook for 1 minute more.
  4. Stir in the chickpea flour, and cook stirring for 1 minute. Stir in the stock of your choice, the reserved porcini water, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and add additional salt if needed. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and chopped herbs.

Serves 4-6

“Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art is a mushroom.” –Thomas Carlyle.

Anything Moroccan!!

I am a big fan of ethnic food, particularly anything from the Mediterranean. French, Italian, Spanish, North African and especially Moroccan. Mediterranean cuisine is so darn full of fresh, savory ingredients! I just can’t get enough. Moroccan food is particularly known for their national food the tagine, it has the unique taste of popular spices such as saffron, cumin (my favorite), cinnamon, ginger, and cilantro. Most recipes are healthy and loaded with vegetables. The delicious combination of mouth-watering flavors is what makes it unique…Oh, and what flavors!

This recipe is a stew that is on regular rotation at our house. The combination of butternut squash, red potato, chickpeas and spices works beautifully together; but the green olives give it not only a punch of color, but a salty counterpoint to the sweetness of the squash. The color of this dish alone is one of the reasons to try it. You can serve this stew over, couscous, rice or cauliflower rice (which is what I use). I also love to use my homemade cilantro-chili sauce, rather than fresh cilantro. You can find it on this blog under Indian Roasted Potatoes, February 2, 2021.

MOROCCAN STEW

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
  • 1 head garlic, cloves thinly sliced
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound butternut squash, large dice
  • 3/4 pound (about 3 medium) red potatoes, large dice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (homemade will really add depth)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1 cup green olives, (I use Castelvetrano)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
  • Toasted slivered almonds for garnish
  • Plain Greek yogurt for garnish
  • Your favorite hot sauce (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until spices are aromatic and onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add squash and potatoes, stir to coat, and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Add stock, chickpeas, tomatoes with their juices, and saffron. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until squash and potatoes are fork tender.
  3. Remove from heat and add lemon zest and olives. Serve over grain of choice. Garnish with cilantro, almonds and yogurt.

Serves 4-6

“Ethnic diversity adds richness to a society.” –Gary Locke

Satisfying Soupa!

I think many of us would agree that in the winter, soups and stews are so comforting. There is something about their warmth and aroma that is deeply satisfying. When I’m not eating at the table, I have a particular bowl that fits nicely in the palm of my hand. I love to spoon soup from it while staring out on the landscape outside my writing window. It is then when I feel particularly satisfied on multiple levels.

Root vegetables in particular work well in soup. When you combine these with homemade stock you have something nourishing and healthy to offer your family. Maybe it just feeds our soul. One of my favorites soups that is on constant rotation is Minestrone. It can literally be any combination of vegetables you choose or have on hand. Add some beans and greens and you are all set.

BRICKYARD FARMS MINESTRONE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, cut in cubes
  • 2 cups carrots sliced on the bias
  • 2 cups zucchini, cubed
  • 2 quarts homemade chicken or vegetable stock; or 2 cartons organic stock
  • 1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 4 cups baby spinach OR Swiss chard OR kale, stemmed and chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add carrots, sweet potatoes and zucchini and saute for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add stock, tomatoes with juice and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low and simmer until sweet potatoes and carrots are soft, about 25 minutes.
  3. Add cannellini beans and spinach (or whatever green you choose) simmer just until greens wilt.
  4. Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan or pecorino.

Serves 6-8

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup” –Laurie Colwin

Winter Salads Rock

One of the pleasures of winter is creating salads using vegetables quite different than those found during the summer months. Root vegetables, beans, legumes and hearty greens all step up to be used in endless creations. Roasting vegetables deepens their flavor, while beans and legumes form layers of interest. Sweet and salty, acid and fats all do their part in making winter salads that are not only interesting, but healthy and delicious. Lettuce be damned!

This salad is full of roasted butternut squash, lentils simmered with a cinnamon stick and smashed garlic, scallions, feta and toasted pepitas. Add a dressing of orange and lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper and grapeseed oil and you have something you can serve as the main event or as a side with a protein. You can even double or triple it for a crowd.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH LENTILS AND FETA

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (1-pound) butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro (optional)

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pick any debris from the lentils, then rinse the lentils under running water. Transfer them to a medium saucepan, then add the cinnamon stick, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add enough water to cover the lentils by an inch. Bring the water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to low and let simmer until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils, discard the cinnamon and garlic; then transfer them to a large bowl.
  2. While the lentils cook, prepare the squash. Trim and discard the top and bottom ends of the squash. Peel the squash, halve it lengthwise, remove and discard the seeds. Slice and cube the squash into about 1 inch pieces, and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with Kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the squash until completely tender, slightly caramelized and golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes; then add to the lentils.
  4. While the squash cooks, prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the orange and lemon juice, grapeseed oil, cumin, cayenne and salt and pepper.
  5. Sprinkle the scallions, feta and pumpkin seeds over lentils and squash. Pour 3 tablespoons of dressing over the lentils and squash. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.

Serves 2-4

“A well made salad should have a certain uniformity; it should make perfect sense for those ingredients to be in a bowl together.” –Yotam Ottolenghi

Umami Explosion

I love pasta. I can typically put together a pasta dish in under 30 minutes. This dish came together with ingredients I routinely have in my refrigerator and pantry, which makes it super convenient. But the real deal is how incredibly delicious it was with only 5 ingredients. All those taste sensations are covered, salty pancetta, acidic lemon, and the richness of pecorino. This can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. Add a salad and a crunchy baguette and you have yourself a deeply satisfying meal. You won’t believe how rich it is without using cream.

Don’t use marinated artichokes for this recipe, as their flavor is too sharp and tangy. After draining the artichokes, make sure to pat them dry so they caramelize when added to the pot. Don’t forget to reserve about 2 cups of the cooked pasta water before draining the noodles. You will need it for pureeing the artichokes and building the sauce.

LINGUINE WITH ARTICHOKES, LEMON & PANCETTA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound linguine or fettuccini
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more t serve
  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 2 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry and quartered if whole
  • Zest from one lemon, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup finely grated pecorino or Parmesan, plus more to serve
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, OR chives, OR basil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Reserve about 2 cups of cooking water, then drain.
  2. In the same pot over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small plate; set aside. Add the artichokes to the pot and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown at the edges, 3-4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer half the artichokes to a small bowl; add the remainder to a blender. Reserve the pot.
  3. To the artichokes in the blender, add 1/2 cup cooking water, the lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; puree until smooth. In the same pot over medium, bring 1 cup of the remaining cooking water to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Add the artichoke puree, the pasta, lemon zest, pancetta, cheese and parsley. Cook, tossing to combine, just until the noodles are heated through, 1-2 minutes; add more reserved water as needed to make a silky sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the reserved artichokes, along with additional oil and pecorino or Parmesan.

Serves: 4-6

“Silence more musical than any song.” –Christina Rossetti

Pecan Sandies On Steroids

The holiday’s are an excellent time to satisfy our sweet tooth, and these are one of the best ways to do it. They are hands down my favorite cookie! I call them Pecan Sandies On Steroids. There’s pecans in the dough, pecans in the frangipane, and they’re topped with a pecan. They are addicting and sooooo good! Any questions?

Dusting these tender pecan-and-butter-packed cookies in powdered sugar before baking them creates a crackly, glossy coating. The frangipane makes more than you will need and freezes well for your next batch; being ready when you are craving these decadent morsels.

PECAN SANDIES ON STEROIDS

INGREDIENTS:

Frangipane:

  • 2 cups pecan halves, toasted (divided) 3/4 cup for frangipane, 1 cup for dough and 1/4 cup for topping each cookie
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Dough and Assembly:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided; plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
INSTRUCTIONS:

FRANGIPANE:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing halfway through, until slightly darkened in color and fragrant, 6-8 minutes. Let cool; set 1 1/4 cups aside for making the dough.
  2. Pulse granulated sugar and remaining 3/4 cups of pecans in a food processor until nuts are very finely ground. Be careful to stop before they become a paste, about 30-45 seconds. Add egg white and pulse just to blend, then add butter, espresso powder, salt, and almond extract. Pulse just until mixture is smooth and combined. Scrape frangipane into a small bowl and chill at least 30 minutes before using. You can make frangipane up to 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled. Take out of refrigerator at least 30 minutes before using.

DOUGH AND ASSEMBLY:

  1. Pulse flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 cup reserved pecans in clean food processor until nuts are very finely ground, about 1 minute.
  2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat until combined and no streaks remain.
  3. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients. Beat just until incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough until it’s firm enough that you can scoop it and it holds its shape, 30-45 minutes.
  4. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Place 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Working in batches, scoop out tablespoons of dough and roll in powdered sugar, knocking of any excess. Transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets as you work, placing 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake cookies until puffed but edges are still soft, 6-8 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and make an indent in the center of each cookie with the handle end of a wooden spoon, or a similar heatproof object. Spoon a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of frangipane into each and top with a pecan half from remaining reserved 1/4 cup. Return cookies to the oven and continue to bake until edges are set and very lightly browned, about 6-8 additional minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.
  6. Just before serving, dust cookies with more powdered sugar if desired.

Yields: 26-28 cookies

“May the light illuminate your hearts and shine in your life every day of the year.

May everlasting peace be yours and upon our Earth.” -― Eileen Anglin