Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Inaugural Lunch

What I would make for Barak Obama's Inaugural Lunch

Inauguration ceremonies for the President and the Vice President have been part of American history for more than two hundred years. The first Inauguration of George Washington took place in New York City in 1789. Inauguration Day was March 4th, which was also the final day of the congressional session. At noon the Vice President-elect would take the oath of office, and then deliver his Inaugural address. The Vice President would call the Senate into extraordinary session, and then the Senators-elect would come forth and take their oaths of office. The procession would form and make its way to the east front portico of the Capitol for the President's swearing-in ceremony. In 1937, Inauguration Day was moved to January 20th, a change enacted by the 20th amendment to the Constitution. The Vice President's swearing-in ceremony also moved, from the Senate chamber to the Inaugural platform on the Capitol's east front. In 1981, the Inaugural ceremonies moved to the west front terrace of the Capitol, where they have been held ever since.
After Barak Obama takes the oath of office on January 20, 2009, he will deliver his Inaugural address and President Bush will depart. The new President will be escorted to Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol for the traditional Inaugural Lunch. The menu will often feature the cuisine reflecting the home states of the new President and Vice President and is kept a secret until served.
Abraham Lincoln was served Mock Turtle Soup, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Parsley Potatoes and Blackberry Pie. FDR request Chicken a la King, but the chef could not figure out how to keep the dish warm for 2000 guests. The menu was Cold Chicken Salad, Rolls, and Pound Cake. Harry Truman dined on South Carolina Turkey, Smithfield Ham, Potato Salad and Pumpkin Pie. Eisenhower’s lunch menu included, Creamed Chicken, Baked Ham and Potato Puffs. John Kennedy’s lunch was an elegant menu of Cream of Tomato Soup with Crushed Popcorn, Deviled Crabmeat Imperial, New England Boiled Stuffed Lobster, Prime Texas Ribs, String Beans Amadine, Broiled Tomatoes and assorted Pastries. LBJ enjoyed Grilled Texas Filet Mignon and Blue Lake String Beans. Ronald Reagan started with a California Garden Salad followed by Sautéed Chicken Breast with White Wine Sauce and Capers, Wild Rice Pilaf and Strawberries. Bill Clinton dined on Shrimp, Oysters, Scallops, Beef a la Mode and Quince Ice Cream. George W. Bush was served Lobster Pie, Beef Tenderloin, Vegetables (including broccoli), Biscuits and Toffee Pudding.
Here is my celebration lunch…I will probably make it for dinner though.

Parsnip Bisque with Smoked Paprika
by Penny Rich
Serves 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter*
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped **
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups half-and-half*
2-3 teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large soup pot. Add onions and celery, cook 5 minutes until just tender. Add parsnips and broth and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. With an emersion blender, carefully puree the mixture to a creamy consistency. Add half and half, paprika, and salt and pepper.
*Vegan ingredients can replace dairy in this soup. Use olive oil instead of butter and unsweetened, soymilk instead of half and half.
**This soup can also be prepared with rutabagas or cauliflower.

Composed Baby Greens and Roasted Beet Salad
by Penny Rich
Serves 6

3-4 beets, about 1 pound, trimmed of greens and washed
6-7 cups baby greens such as Romaine
4 ounces goat cheese
½ cup walnuts
Place beets on a foil lined baking sheet prepared with oil spray. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and place in a 400•F oven for 20-30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. When beets can be handled, slide peel off and slice beets.
To compose salad, place a handful of greens on each plate, fan out beet slices in a decorative pattern, crumble goat cheese on each salad and top with a few walnuts. Right before serving drizzle with Lemon Vinaigrette.

Lemon Vinaigrette
½ cup water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Couple of spring parsley
Salt and pepper to taste.

Place all ingredients in a food processor and whiz until combined. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

Pan Seared Skirt Steak
by Penny Rich

Serves 6

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 ½ pounds skirt steak, cut in 4 inch pieces

Combine dry ingredients and pat into steaks. Pan sear on medium-high for 6-8 minutes per side. While steak is cooking make the garlic sauce. Turn a food processor fitted with the metal blade on. Drop 2 cloves of garlic in running machine. Process until finely diced. Add ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper, 1 cup of rinsed cilantro, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and whiz until combined and smooth. Drizzle over cooked steaks.

Butternut Squash Risotto
by Penny Rich

Serves 4

½ ounce porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 onion, diced
1 ¼ cup Arborio rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
½ pound butternut squash
salt and pepper to taste
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

If the porcini mushrooms are dried, soak in for 30 minutes before cooking. Drain and chop.
Warm the stock in a medium saucepan. In a larger saucepan, heat oil and add onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat each grain with oil. Add the garlic, wine and squash and cook until liquid is absorbed. Begin to add ½ cup of hot broth at a time stirring the whole time until all the stock is absorbed. Repeat until all the broth is used. Turn off the heat. Stir in scallions and Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.

Fudgy Brownies

by Penny Rich
Server 10-12

2 sticks unsalted butter
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3 eggs
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cups all-purpose flour,
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups walnuts, pieces (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan

Melt together the butter and chocolate chips in the microwave for 2 minutes. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the mixture. Toss the chocolate chips and nuts, if using, with 1/8 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes. Do not over-bake!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Seems as though the Apple Butter recipe did not make it onto the blog. Here you go. Sorry no photos of the butter cooking, however I will take a photo of my toast tomorrow and add it later. Enjoy...
Apple Butter
By Penny Rich
Makes about 4 pints

5-6 pounds apples, all different kinds
3 cups sugar
2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg

Peel and core apples. Chop finely in food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the apples and the rest of the ingredients to a crook pot. Cook on high for about 1 hour then on low for 10-12 hours. Puree butter in the crock pot with and emersion blender and turn the heat to high. Leaving the lid slightly ajar, cook until apple butter reduces by half and becomes thick.
Carefully fill sterilized jars with apple butter and process in boiling water for 15minutes. Remove and allow to sit overnight. Test the seal and refrigerate any jars that have not sealed completely.
Sealed jars will keep for 2 years.
Once opened butter is good for 2 months.

Monday, December 22, 2008

by Penny Rich
Makes about 30

2 onions
5 pounds baking potatoes
6 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup matzoh meal
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2-3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Canola oil, for frying
Old cast iron frying pan

Sides – fresh applesauce, fresh grated horseradish mixed with sour cream, plain sour cream.

Peel and ¼ onions. Place in a food processor with the metal blade. Pulse until the onion is chopped. Remove to very large mixing bowl. Return the processor bowl to the machine and fit it with the shredding disc.
Wash potatoes well and send through the feed tube. Place shredded potatoes in a colander over the sink. Remove hands of potatoes and place in a clean dishtowel. Squeeze all the liquid out and place in the bowl with the onion. Repeat until all the potatoes are drained and in the mixing bowl. Add eggs, matzoh meal, parsley, salt and pepper. No other way to mix this but with your hands.
Place ¼ cups oil in pan. Get it real hot before adding spoonfuls of potato. Brown turn, repeat until all the potatoes are used adding oil as needed.

shredded potatoes draining

make sure to get all the liquid squeezed out

mix in the rest of the ingredients

old cast iron pans are the best for frying latkes

lots and lots of latkes

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Black Bean Chili
By Penny Rich
Serves 4

2-3 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 each red and green pepper, diced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cups soy crumbles*
28 ounce crushed tomatoes
2 14.5 ounce can black beans
1 cup water
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions, garlic and peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes, just until the vegetables are wilted.

Add chili, chipotle, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve piping hot with soy jack cheese and cilantro .

*found in the frozen soy section

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Holiday Gifts From Your Kitchen

Gifts From the Heart

Every year we all go through the agony of finding the perfect gift for everyone on our shopping list. Ah! December, the month for giving. This year, instead of spending hours of your time at a crowded mall, on a busy highway, or on-line, why not spend some quality time with your kids in the kitchen, at home. Put the fun and novelty back into gift giving by creating something homemade for each and everyone on your list. Have a wonderful holiday season and a very safe, peaceful New Year.

Hot Honey Mustard
by Penny Rich
Inspired by Joan Soons

1 cup hot mustard flour
1 cup white vinegar
2 eggs
1 cup honey
½ teaspoon salt

Mix the mustard flour and vinegar in a blender until combined. Allow to sit overnight. Place the mixing jar back on the blender base and add eggs, honey and salt. Blend until mixed. Set up a double boiler and place the mustard mixture in the top pot. Wisk as the mixture heats, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Pour into small sterilized jars. Refrigerate after opening.
Always include ingredients on all gifts.

Herb Oil
by Penny Rich

1 cup parsley
1/2 cup packed fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh thyme
1/2 cup packed fresh oregano
Zest of ½ orange or lemon
1 whole dried chipotle chili
1 teaspoon whole black pepper corns
2 cups canola oil
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all of the herbs, zest, chili and peppercorns in a large sterilized mason jar. Pour both oils into a saucepan and heat to 200 degrees F. Pour the hot oils into the jar and cover with a kitchen towel secured with a rubber band. Let stand overnight.
Place cheesecloth over the top of the jar and replace the outer rim of the lid. Invert and strain oil into a large measuring cup. Place some fresh herbs, garlic or chili pepper in gift jars and cover with the oil.
Always include ingredients on all gifts.

Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar
by Penny Rich
Makes 24 jumbo size cookies

1 ¼ cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Layer dry ingredients in a large jar in any order. Place a seasonal fabric on lid and tie a ribbon around the top of the jar. To the ribbon attach the recipe and instructions.

1 cup or 2 sticks of butter, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat the butter in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating once again until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla. Take off the mixer and add the ingredient from the jar, mixing with a wooden spoon just until combined. Prepare a cookie sheet with spray oil or cover with a Silpat. With a medium ice cream scoop drop 6 cookie per tray, bake 350F for 14-16 minutes. Cool on rack. Store in an airtight container, if there are any left.
Always include ingredients on all gifts

Hot Cocoa in a Jar
by Penny Rich
Makes 8 servings

Combine the following ingredients in a bowl.

1 cup dry organic powered milk
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup white sugar

Place in a Ball or Mason jar. Place a seasonal fabric on lid and tie a ribbon around the top of the jar. To the ribbon attach the recipe and instructions.
To make a cup of hot cocoa, measure 1/4 cups of the mix and place it in a large mug, add 1 cup of boiling water and stir.
For extra creamy hot cocoa, add 1-2 tablespoons of cream or whipped cream.
Always include ingredients on all gifts.

Chanukah Biscuit (for the dog)
by Penny Rich
makes about 2 dozen

½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
½ cup fresh ground peanut or almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ - 1 ½ cups water
4 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ up oats
¼ cup chopped peanuts or almonds

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl combine applesauce through water. In a second bowl mix dry ingredients flour through nuts. Add dry to wet and mix until combined. Turn out on a floured surface and knead until everything is mixed together. Roll out to ¼ thick. Bring out all you holiday cookie cutters and cut out shapes. Bake on a greased baking sheet for 45 minutes, cool on a rack. Place biscuit in a decorative jar or sealed plastic baggie.
Always include ingredients on all gifts.

Candle Jars

What you need; large saucepan, cleaned coffee can, paraffin wax, old crayons, paint stirrer, candlesticks, wide mouth 1 cup glass jars.

Set up a double boiler to melt the paraffin. Fill the bottom of the saucepan with 4 to 5 inches of water and place the coffee tin in the pan. Then pack chunks of paraffin into the coffee can melting the wax over medium-high heat, carefully adding more chunks until the can is about two-thirds filled. To color the melted wax, break half of a peeled crayon into pieces, add to the wax. To add a scent, add your favorite oil. Slowly mix with a paint stirrer, then turn off the heat and let the paraffin cool for about 10 minutes.
Dip the bottom of each candlestick into the melted wax and stick it to the inner jar bottom. When the candlestick ends have hardened enough to hold, carefully pour enough wax into the jars to cover the candlestick tops but not the wicks. Allow to cool. Decorate the jars with holiday ribbons and screw on lid.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Perfect Cup of Coffee

The Perfect Cup of Coffee

I used to be a night owl. Well, that is before I had kids. Now I get up at 5:30 a.m. just to do the one simple thing, all alone, no interruptions, no requests, no questions, just me, and well, the dog. I drink my perfect cup of coffee or two or three. My coffee ritual is the same every morning and well worth it.

6 steps to the perfect cup of coffee
Fresh beans: start with fresh roasted coffee beans. There are different varieties and places where you can buy fresh beans*. It really is a matter of taste so explore and find your favorite locally roasted beans. Air, light, heat and moisture are the enemies of coffee freshness, so store your coffee where it will not be exposed to these elements. Coffee beans oxidize and begin to deteriorate after two weeks, so only purchase enough for a 2-3 week period max. Only buy fresh roasted whole bean coffee for your perfect cup of coffee. Buying ground coffee is out of the question as it deteriorates after only a few days.
Grind: Be sure to use the correct grind for your brewing method.
Coffee Press: 6 seconds in blade grinder
Drip (basket filter): 10 seconds in blade grinder
Cone filter and steam espresso: 25 seconds in blade grinder
Espresso: best achieved with a burr grinder
Proportion: 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each 6 ounces of water used. For espresso 7 grams of coffee for every 1 ounce shot of water.
Water: Always brew with freshly drawn water, heated to just below boiling. Do not trust the water level marking on your coffee machine. Use a measuring cup to get the exact 6 ounces of water for each cup you will brew until you get a feel for where the proper marking should be.
The Coffee Maker: 
 a good electric drip coffee machine is perfect for everyday use. A French press is better when you have more time to devote to your perfect cup of coffee, like on the weekends. Espresso lovers now have many choices from the simple on the stovetop version, to the $3500 fully automated counter top machine.
The Finishing Touches: 
 Pour your perfect coffee into your favorite ceramic coffee mug. Add cream and sugar to taste, keeping in mind that anything you add to your coffee alters the natural taste. Artificial sweeteners almost always leave a bitter taste. A better choice is Stevia or raw sugar. Also, do not expose the brewed coffee to a heat source for more than 20 minutes. If you would like to keep the coffee hot for more than 20 minutes, I recommend that you use a thermal carafe or thermos.

My family is coming to my house this year for Thanksgiving and I know the coffee will be flowing. Here are some of my favorite ways to serve coffee to make my holiday breakfast special. Have a peaceful Thanksgiving celebration.

Mexican Mocha Coffee
4 servings

4-6 cups coffee
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup fresh whipped cream
Cinnamon-sugar in a salt shaker

Add ingredients, coffee through sugar in a decorative thermal carafe. Swirl around just to mix ingredients. Pour into 4 warmed mugs*. Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
Top with whipped cream mixture.
*To warm mugs, fill with boiling water while you are mixing the ingredients.

Spice Coffee
8 servings

8-12 brewed coffee
Peel from one large orange
Peel from one large lemon
30 whole cloves

Place hot coffee and spices in thermal carafe. Allow the mixture to steep for 20-30 minutes. Place a strainer on each mug and pour 6-8 ounces of the spiced coffee in each. Serve with sugar and cream on the side.

Irish Coffee
1 serving

1 cup of hot coffee

1 tablespoon of Irish whiskey

1 tablespoon of cream

1 tablespoon of sugar
Mix together top with fresh whipped cream

Jamaican Coffee
1 serving

1 cup of hot coffee

¼ shot of Tia Maria

¼ shot of Myers Rum

¼ shot of Dark Crème de Cacao
Mix together the top with whipped cream

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
by Penny Rich
Serves 12

1 cup pecans, chopped finely in a food processor
¼ cup whole pecans
12 ounces dark chocolate chips
¼ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup white sugar
½ cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350•F. Butter and flour a 10-12 cup Bundt pan.
In a medium bowl combine topping ingredients, set aside.
For the batter, cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer using the paddle attachment. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla, mix for 2-3 minutes scraping down the bowl as needed. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix just until combined.
Place the whole pecans on the bottom of the bundt pan. Evenly sprinkle ¼ cup of the topping on the whole pecans. Fold the remaining topping into the batter. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan then flip over onto your serving platter. Let the cake cool for 5-10 minutes more. Top with powdered sugar and serve with your perfect cup of coffee.

*My Favorite Local Coffee Beans

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chipotle Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The hardest part of this recipe is cleaning the seeds out of the pumpkin.
Once you get most of the slimy pumpkin meat off of the seeds wash them well in a colander. I do this three times to make sure they are really clean. Allow the seeds to dry for about 30 minutes. Place the dry seeds in a bowl and mix in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt and 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder(more if you like them hot). Place the seeds on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking oil and bake in a 275°F oven for 20-30 minutes, mixing up every 5-7 minutes. YUM!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rosh Hashanah

This year Rosh Hashanah dinner was just incredible. Friends and family joined in on the celebration with a feast prepared by my son Brody and I. We started with a tequila gravlox served with brown bread, chopped liver like my grandmother used to make and vegetarian chopped “liver”. When we moved to the dinning room and the main meal began, chicken soup with matzo balls got everyone in the mood for more Jewish food. Brody and I made BBQ brisket, inspired by my good friend, Cookbook Author and Food Historian, Marcie Ferris, baked chicken, noodle kuggel, garlic green beans, roasted cauliflower and fresh out of the oven challah. We passed around a plate of locally grown apples and honey to bring in the New Year right and served honey cake and brownies. Everyone left stuffed and happy. My friend Dave even came over to get a to go plate for him and his wife Brooks.

My Grandmother’s Chopped Liver
Inspired by Bertha Griss
10-12 servings

1 pound chicken livers
1 large onion, diced
6 tablespoons butter (my grandmother would have used schmaltz better known as rendered chicken fat)
3 hard-boiled eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat broiler.
Place livers on a baking sheet cover with foil and sprayed with cooking oil. Broil about 3-4 minutes on each side. Cool and move to grandma’s old wooden bowl.
Melt butter in a large frying pan. Add diced onions and cook just until they begin to get brown. This releases the sugars from the onion and enhances the flavor of the final dish.
Begin chopping the livers with a single blade hand chopper. When the livers are chopped add the onion, and begin to chop again. Slice the eggs with an egg slicer and add to the bowl, chop some more. Salt and pepper to taste and into the fridge for 2-3 hours. Serve with bread, crackers or just a spoon.

Grandma's Chopped Liver

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hot Soup for Cool Nights

Chipotle Split-Pea Soup
by Penny Rich
serves 8
When the evenings begin to get cooler, warm soup is just right for a main meal. The kids also love this soup after a long day of school and outdoor sports. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped*

3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
8 cups vegetable stock

5 carrots, sliced*

2 teaspoons dried, ground chipotle pepper 

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, fire roasted
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot, sauté the onion in the olive until translucent. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the rinsed split peas and vegetable stock and cook covered for 30 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until the peas are tender and begin to break apart about 1 hour.

1 cup is about 260 Calories and 17grams of Fiber
*local ingredients

Monday, August 4, 2008

Farm Fresh Eggs

While tasting a tomato at the farmer’s market this week something caught my eye that was just beautiful. It was a blue shelled extra large egg. I turned to the stall with these magnificent eggs and bought a dozen. Fresh farm eggs. They were just as beautiful inside with an almost orange yolk, glistening in my bowl. I almost didn’t want to beat them. But it was time to develope some new recipes. Here is an old favorite, revisited.

Egg Fu Yung
by Penny Rich
Makes 6-8 patties – serves 4

1/2 cup cooked and chopped shrimp*
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, chopped
1/2 cup onions, chopped
2 shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
3 farm fresh eggs
Pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoon canola oil
2-3 scallions, chopped for garnish

1 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon Mirin
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Beat eggs and mix in chopped ingredients and bean sprouts. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and ladle mixture into pan to form small patties. Fry about 2 minutes, turn over and fry 3 more minutes. Serve with hot gravy and garnish with scallions.
To make gravy, add ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a full boil, stirring constantly.

*Left over chicken, pork or tofu can be substituted for the shrimp

Monday, July 14, 2008

Local summer salad in a bowl...yum

by Penny Rich

Serves 8-10

Perfect for those hot summer nights. This gazpacho should be chunky, not pureed. The flavors develop as this soup chills, so visit your local farmer’s market in the morning and prepare this wonderful soup early in the day.

2 large English cucumbers
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
8 plum tomatoes
1/2 red onion
2 garlic cloves
6 cups low sodium tomato or vegetable juice
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon truffle oil
1 tablespoon salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Roughly chop the vegetables. In a food process, fitted with the metal blade, pulse each vegetable separately just until coarsely chopped. Place each in a large serving bowl to combine. Add juice, vinegar, 2 oils, salt and pepper. Chill for 4-6 hours before serving.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Lentil Loaf

My son Brody, who is now 11, has been a vegetarian since he started eating solid food, and now is learning how to cook. This is a recipe that we created together. We had a great time cooking and eating this tasty lentil loaf.

Lentil Loaf
by Penny Rich
serves 6-8

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 large carrot, grated
2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/4 cup TVP
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth, or water
1 tablespoons flaxseed, ground
1 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons ketchup, plus 1/4 cup for top*
Dash Worcestershire sauce*
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with oil. Sauté the onion, garlic and carrots until soft. Add to large mixing bowl along with remaining ingredients. Begin mashing ingredients and then switch to a spoon and mix well. Mixture should be moist. Press into the pan and brush the top with 1/4 of ketchup.
Bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool loaf for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hushpuppies for my birthday

Birthday dinner at Crook’s Corner would never be complete without the jalapeno hushpuppies. Here is my version of the classic southern fritter. Make a lot. They disappear fast.

Jalapeno Hushpuppies
Makes about 40

2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 Kosher teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried chipotle pepper
2 large eggs**
1 cup buttermilk**
3 tablespoons butter, melted**
1/2 cup scallion, diced finely**
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2-3 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely**

In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients: cornmeal, salt, chipotle pepper, with a whisk to combine. Combine eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and add to the dry ingredients. Stir in scallions, jalapeno and cheese. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
Heat oil*, preferably in a cast-iron deep fryer, to 365°F. Using a tablespoon drop the batter into the hot oil. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the outside turns a nice brown and the insides are cooked through.

*Fat for deep frying can be shortening, lard, or vegetable oil. I use vegetable oil.
**Local ingredients

Monday, May 19, 2008

Marcy's 50th birthday dinner

The meal.....

Marcy's 50th birthday dinner

I went to San Francisco for my sister Marcy’s 50th birthday celebration and ate and drank the most wonderful food and wine. We went to a very small restaurant on May 7, 2008, which was her actual birthday, just Marcy, my younger sister Deana and me. The restaurant is called BAR CRUDO. Here is what we had.
To start with, Kushi Oysters and sparkling wine. I also ordered the asparagus soup that came with a dollop of crème fresh and tobiko. Marcy and Deana ordered the lobster for dinner, but I needed to experiment so I ordered the small plates starting with the Artic Char served with a creamy horseradish, wababi infused tobiko and dill. Wonderfully delicious and the wasabi infusion was a real treat. I then had the Yellow Fin Tuna, which was served with ginger soy, sriracha, scallions and cilantro. Yum! But I wasn’t done yet. My last dish was the Lobster and Beet salad, Main lobster, chioggia beets, golden beets, pistachio oil, burrata cheese, banyuls vinaigrette topped with mache. I was in food bliss and this was only the first night.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Passover Menu

OK! It's Passover and I am going to try to keep it local but I might have to stray just a bit for traditiona sake.
To start;
Deviled Eggs
Matzoh with Dried Fruit and Almond Haroseth
Chicken Soup with Creole Matzoh Balls
(A vegetable broth will also be served for us veggie babies)
BBQ Style Brisket
Roasted Chicken Legs
Dirty Matzoh (Marcie Ferris - Matzoh Ball Gumbo recipe)
Steamed Broccoli
Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole
And for the sweets;
Chocolate Souffle cake with Mocha filling
Matzoh Toffee

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Passover Toffee

Every year when Passover rolls around I make pounds and pounds of Matzo Toffee. Originally inspired by a good friend from New Orleans, this recipe has been making my kids and all the kids we have know from New Orleans to Chapel Hill happy. So what’s local about this recipe? I’ll stretch my imagination and say pecans?

Matzo Toffee
by Penny Rich
Pack this treat in your child’s lunch box and watch how many friends he makes.

4 pieces of matzo
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts, I like pecans (optional)
1 cup chocolate chips, I like semi sweet

Break matzo into 2 inch square pieces and place on a non-stick pan. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and continue to cook on low heat for 5 minutes until combined stirring constantly. Turn off heat add chopped nuts and pour over matzo. Bake at 350•F for 8 minutes. While matzo is baking melt chocolate chips in a microwave. Pour over the baked matzo and spread evenly to coat all the pieces. Refrigerate until chocolate sets up.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Celery Root makes a great winter soup

I know Spring is coming because the crocuses have bloomed and the daffodils are now showing their beautiful yellow colors. Unfortunately we will have to wait a little longer for the spring crops to show up at the local farmers markets and co-ops. In the mean time why not try a vegetable you never cooked before. Celery root, grown locally and found at the market during the winter months, needs to be peeled to get to its beautiful creamy white flesh. The texture resembles that of a turnip and taste like a blend between celery and parsley. This Celery Root (Celeriac) Bisque is perfect with some crusty bread and a glass of wine.

Celery Root (Celeriac) Bisque
by Penny Rich
Serves 8

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup shallots, chopped
2 pounds celery roots (celeriac), peeled, woody parts trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
4-5 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 cup half and half
Celery leaves for garnish
Home made croutons for garnish*

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add celery and cook 3 minutes until soft. Add shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the celery root cubes, potato, broth and thyme. Let the mixture come to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and with a stick blender, puree until smooth. Stir in half and half and return to heat just warming through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls garnish with celery leaves. Serve with homemade croutons.

*Croutons – Cut day old bread into bite size cubes. Toss in a bowl with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary. Place on a foil lined baking sheet that has been prepared with cooking spray. Toast in a 400F oven for 12-14 minutes.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Root Vegetables YUM!

The local markets have a great selection of root vegetables now that are perfect for roasting.

Roasted Root Vegetables

All seasonal root vegetables roast up beautifully and get sweeter as they cook.
Celery root

Wash, peel if needed and dice all vegetables so they are about the same size. I like to call it bite size or 1 1/2 inch cubes.
Coat a large bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss vegetables adding more oil if needed to get everything coated. Place foil on a baking sheet and coat it with spray oil. Turn out vegetables on to the pan and roast at 425F for 15-20 minutes.
To add extra flavor add a couple of cloves of garlic and a sliced red onion.
Serve as a side dish or steam some brown rice and top your bowl of rice with some roasted vegetables, diced tofu or cooked chicken.

Left over vegetables can be made into a tasty soup by simply pureeing the vegetable in a pot with a stick blender adding vegetable stock to get to the consistency your prefer. Heat on a low flame until warmed through adjust seasoning, and serve with some fresh crotons.

Crotons can be made by taking some bread, cutting it into bite size pieces, tossing in a bowl with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper, and herbs of your choice. Place on a baking try lined with foil and prepared with spray oil. Bake in the oven or toaster oven on 425F for 5-7 minutes.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Red is on the menu in February

Almost February. Time to start thinking RED.

This is one of my favorite salads and can be served warm or chilled. I don’t like very cold foods – room temperature is just right.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese
By Penny Rich

2 bunches of beets, greens attached, locally grown
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces of local goat cheese*
Drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup pecans or walnuts

Cut tops and bottoms off beets (reserving the beet greens) and wash off all sand and dirt. Wrap the beets in foil and place on a baking tray lined with foil in a 425 F oven for 25-30 minutes. While the beets are roasting, wash greens thoroughly. Cut off rough stems and chop. In a large skillet heat oil and add greens, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, turn off heat and stir through.
Remove beets from the oven and cool slightly. Carefully open foil and gently peel away skin. Cut beets into bite size pieces. Place greens on a serving platter, top with beets, salt, pepper and small pieces of goat cheese. Drizzle with oil and vinegar. Top with nuts.

*For this recipe I used Celebrity Dairy plain goat cheese

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Local collards still on the menu

Szechuan Buckwheat Noodles with Collard Ribbons
By Penny Rich

We are still getting the local collards and they are good.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1 inch piece of ginger, chopped roughly
2 teaspoons Thai chili sauce
1 table Hoisin sauce
2 limes, juiced
1 1/2 cups water
8 ounces buckwheat sobo noodles
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, sliced
1 bunch collards, washed and chopped julienne style

Combine sauce ingredients in a blender, soy sauce through water. Fill a large pot with water and set on high until boiling. Add noodles, cook 6-7 minutes until andante. While noodles are cooking, heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add collards and cook 4-6 minutes, just until wilted. Drain noodles and place in a large bowl. Add collards and sauce. Toss to combine. Turn out onto a large serving platter and top with scallions and peanuts.

Cooked chicken, shrimp or tofu can be added for additional protein.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Make your winter green

Green is in for the next month or so. That's what's growing locally. Try this Green Gumbo inspired by my friend and local farmer Betsey Basil.

Green Gumbo
By Penny Rich
Inspired by Betsey Basil
Serves 6

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup flour
2 onions, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 green peppers, diced
2 –3 cloves garlic, minced
4 links of Soy Sausage*, sliced
6 cups vegetable stock
1 pound each collards, turnip or mustard greens, kale, spinach, roughly chopped and blanched**
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

In a large pot, stir together the oil and flour to form a roux. Cook the roux over medium heat, 20-30 minutes, or until it is a nutty color. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, garlic and soy sausage, stir well to combine, and cook an additional 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add vegetable stock stirring to combine. Add the reserved greens, seasoning, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes. Serve on brown rice.

*Soy sausage is a meat substitute that can be found in the market near the tofu
**Blanching the greens – bring 6-8 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water. Add each green for 2-3 minutes – remove to a bowl. Repeat with all the greens.