Shorelinechef's Blog

Cooking and creating everyday solutions for busy families like mine.

Special Delivery February 15, 2011

So… my children’s elementary school has a great new program whereby I can order organic produce, guaranteed to have been plucked from the ground within 24 hours of delivery. I’ve received two boxes so far:

First February Box

First Box of February

With the first delivery of Chinese Broccoli – with the little white flowers still on it!), I made a delicious stir-fry with garlic, green onions, yellow and orange peppers, chicken, seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce. I served it over brown rice. Explaining it to the kids as just another form of broccoli (which they already liked) helped to ease the introduction and, aside from my three year-old, they ate happily.

Chinese Broccoli Stir-Fry

Second February Box

Second Box of February

With the chard from the second box (and with apologies to a Martha Stewart feature at least 15 years ago,) I made Swiss Chard Bundles:

Ingredient Assembly

I started by blanching my chard leaves and brushing them with olive oil.

Layered and ready to roll

Next, I layered a base of mozzarella cheese, slices of Roma tomatoes,a smear of pesto, some freshly ground sea salt and pepper, and another drizzle of olive oil. Alternatively, use some fresh basil leaves in place of the basil.

Brushing the exterior with olive oil

I rolled up from the bottom, folding in the sides as I went. Then, I brushed the exterior of the bundles with olive oil.

Into the grill pan

One of my favorite tools in the kitchen is my grill pan. I actually have two: a cast iron, which is superior for high heat and super-impressive grill marks, and a nonstick version, which is SO easy to clean that it usually wins out over the cast iron. I even make grilled cheese in it, use a press for panini and chicken breasts and this pan goes into the oven, so I can finish off meats that way, if needed.

But I digress… pop these bundles into the grill pan over medium heat and let cook, undisturbed, for about five minutes. I like to use tongs with silicone tips so as not to mar my pan.

The B-Sides

When you flip them, you’ll notice that they have slightly charred on the bottom. I absolutely love this flavor. The second side won’t take as long… probably about 3 minutes, though you could peek to check the browning, if you’d like.

Incidentally, this recipe can also be done on the grill. If you choose to do this, soak some wooden skewers in water a half an hour before you make the bundles and use those to secure the packets. They fall apart much more readily on the barbecue.

Sneak Peek

I had to get a sneak peek to make sure the cheese was melted properly! My kids decided that these tasted like pizza and, again, except for the three year-old, gobbled them up (then finished off the three year-old’s plate!)

I hope you will try this at home. It is so easy, so delicious and an unusual presentation of a vegetable that is often overlooked or considered difficult to cook.

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Brunch Bites to Impress October 9, 2009

I often have the need for a breakfast/brunch dish that travels well. Well, I’ve got a new favorite and it would be just as good for a party appetizer. The prep is simple and the results are fantastic (really… how wrong can you go with bacon and cheese?!?)

Bacon-Cheddar Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. pie crusts (2 crusts), softened according to package directions.
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 2 plum tomatoes (plus more diced for garnish, optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz. (1/2 pkg) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • Sliced green onions (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll pie crust onto lightly floured surface. Spacing closely together, use a cup (the Pampered Chef Measure-All Cup is perfect) to cut nine circles around the outside edge and three in the center. Press disks into wells of a 24-indentation mini muffin pan, using the Mini-Tart Shaper to complete. Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown (if your dough has become very warm, I would suggest popping it into the fridge for 5 – 10 minutes to re-chill).
  2. Meanwhile, stack bacon; thinly slice and cook over medium-high heat 10 – 12 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate; cool slightly. Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in half and scrape out seeds. Dice. Chop bacon (the Food Chopper is great for this). In a bowl, combine bacon, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mustard and pressed garlic. Mix well.
  3. Remove pan from oven to a rack. Using a small spoon (such as the Adjustable Measuring Spoon), fill each cup with about 1 Tbsp. of the cheese mixture. Bake 5 – 7 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with green onions and additional diced tomato, if desired.

Yield: 24 appetizers

Recipe from The Pampered Chef.

I ended up with extra filling and plan to try it wrapped in crescent dough and baked or spread on toast and broiled. Simple and quick, but

This could definitely be lightened up. The Neufchatel cheese I used worked just fine. You could also replace the bacon with turkey bacon and use light cheddar.

Hope you enjoy it!

 

Panini Party August 1, 2009

Once a year, the time comes for me to host some of my favorite friends for Bunco night. My penchant for theme parties (inherited from my very creative mother) really shows itself right about now. There’s just something about taking the menu and expanding it to color the entire evening and give one’s guests a virtual ticket to a fun escape, if only for a few hours.

This year, my plan for the balmy July evening was inspired by the panini maker my DH gave me for Mother’s Day (yes… in certain circumstances, small appliances are the way to my heart!)

So… off to Italy we go!

tuscany.jpg

Outdoor tables draped with simple cotton tablecloths, scattered with votive candles and a vase of sunflowers set the scene. To greet guests before the main meal, small bowls of olives, mixed nuts and fresh cantaloupe. To drink, Prosecco in blue glass bottles and Italian sparkling water with thin slices of lemon. The soundtrack for the evening was, of course, the soundtrack from “Big Night” (a must-see!),

some Rosemary Clooney and Louie Prima.

The menu was simple. Two kinds of panini were offered. First, prosciutto with fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes and basil leaves on garlic sourdough bread brushed with a homemade, garlic-laced balsamic vinaigrette. The second was a delicious broccoli rabe (briefly blanched, chopped and sautéed with olive oil, garlic and finely minced anchovies) with provolone. If you’ve never tried broccoli rabe (also known as rapini or broccolini), it is delicious and slightly bitter, but more tender than broccoli. It is actually a form of turnip green.

Broccoli Raab/Rapini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It lends itself to many of the applications one might use for spinach and is delicious sautéed and served with pasta and a drizzle of olive oil.

Alongside the panini was a salad of mixed baby lettuces and arugula dressed with freshly-squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.

Extra bread was brushed with the balsamic and garlic vinaigrette used on the prosciutto sandwich and then quickly grilled on the panini maker. It was of enormous help that my friend, Julie, brought her panini maker, as well.

The post-dinner treat was a trio of fabulous gelatos – Napa strawberry, white chocolate raspberry and double dark chocolate. I served small scoops in delicate, pressed-glass drinking glasses and topped each with Pizelle cookies, which were a big hit.

The kicker? We never got around to playing bunco, but we had a great night in Italy!

 

Comfort Calm without Kitchen heat July 24, 2009

Even in the hot days of summer, I occasionally crave a comfort meal to calm my nerves or make me feel better when I’m coming down with something. This delicious Stuffed Baked Potato & Corn Chowder satisfies the need for comfort food without causing me to have to crank the A/C because it actually cooks in the Microwave! Not only that, it serves six for minimal cost. It’s a great budget recipe that doesn’t taste a bit like I’m on a budget.

 

Stuffed Baked Potato and Corn Chowder

3 baking potatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs.)

3 1/2 Cups milk, divided (can be lowfat)

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 T butter

2 – 3 green onions

2 – 3 ears of corn, kernels removed and reserved

4 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

Additional toppings, such as sour cream, additional cheese, snipped chives, cooked & chopped bacon and/or steamed broccoli florets.

 

Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and then slice each half into thirds. Place in The Pampered Chef’s Deep Covered Baker and pour 1/2 cup milk over the top. Cover and microwave on high 11 minutes. Remove baker from microwave and move center potatoes to ends of baker and outer potatoes to center. Cover and microwave on high 8 – 11 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove baker from microwave and coarsely mash.

 

While potatoes are cooking, whisk cream cheese until smooth and gradually add the remaining 3 cups of milk. Whisk until smooth. Add the milk & cream cheese mixture to baker and cube and sprinkle butter over the top. Add corn kernels and stir just to cover kernels. Cover and microwave on high for 4 – 6 minutes or until mixture is hot. Slice green and white parts of the green onions and reserve.

 

Carefully remove baker from microwave and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Add green onions, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly until cheese is melted.

 

Serve with toppings, if desired.

 

Thanks to The Pampered Chef for inspiring this recipe.

 

Incredible Farmstand Produce Inspires July 11, 2009

Filed under: Cooking,Vegetables — shorelinechef @ 5:40 am

Driving through America’s salad bowl in Northern California, I happened upon an incredible little farmstand selling organic produce, literally straight from the field. High Ground Organics sits on a little plot adjacent to the historical Redman House, which, in its current, dilapidated state would surely qualify to be pictured alongside any encyclopedic listing of “haunted house”. The grounds of the old mansion, less than a mile from the seashore, are teeming with neatly-tended rows of produce, fruit trees and flowers. Once harvested, the freshly picked bounty travels but a few steps to the tiny stand. Red and green cabbage, green onions, a rainbow of chards, red and golden beets, white turnips, radishes, romaine and leafy lettuces and fingerling potatoes abound. A selection of avocados, fresh eggs and a few other items from select nearby fields and farms are often available, as well.

On this day, along with some other organic items procured from the farmers’ market in the Santa Cruz Mountains town of Felton, I was inspired to make a French-style potato salad of white and red fingerlings with a Dijon-based vinaigrette of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, finely diced sweet white onion, basil, parsley, kosher salt and ground pepper. Some thinly-sliced organic red onion and a brief chill in the fridge completed the flavors. Golden beets, drizzled with olive oil and roasted in the oven at 375 degrees for an hour, then peeled and dressed with more olive oil, kosher salt and pepper were an earthy accompaniment to grilled chicken. Tangy sourdough bread, spread with sweet butter and rubbed with a cut garlic clove was grilled to slightly charred. A green salad of organic romaine and red leaf lettuces, Japanese and lemon cucumbers, small Roma tomatoes and thinly sliced French breakfast radishes completed the meal with a bottle of Zinfandel to top it all off with flair. Sugar-sweet Blenheim apricots were the perfect dessert. This delicious meal was prepared while salty ocean breezes wafted through our beachfront kitchen.

Summer produce inspires. Local, organic ingredients can make the difference when simple techniques are applied for spectacular results.

www.highgroundorganics.com/farmstand.htm