Feta, spinach and tomato stuffed mini peppers

IMG_26132 T oil
1 medium onion, small dice
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 c rice
1 c water or stock broth
1/4 t salt
¼ t black pepper
1/4 c dry white wine
10-12 oz. fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 c chopped seeded tomatoes
3/4 c crumbled feta cheese
½ +/- c water for baking pan
30 mini peppers

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until onion is tender, about 6 minutes, add garlic and stir until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add rice and stir until rice is translucent, about 2 minutes, then IMG_2596water/stock and wine and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until rice is almost tender, about 15 minutes. Mix in spinach. Cover and cook until rice and spinach are tender and all liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes and cheese.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut tops from baby peppers (keep stems on tops) and reserve. Cut a IMG_2597very thin slice from bottom of each pepper so it can stand upright (don’t worry if you make a hole in bottom). Scoop out and discard seeds and ribs.  Fill each pepper with rice mixture and add reserved top. Arrange peppers upright in an oiled baking dish.  Add water to dish and bake, uncovered until peppers are tender about 50 to 60 minutes.  Transfer to serving platter.  If there is leftover filling it is great on its own or use as a base for burritos.

These are remarkably tasty — I think it is the ratio of pepper to filling.  I made them for a party and they seemed to disappear.

Leek and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Leek and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Crust

• 1 c all purpose flour
• 1/4 t salt
• 1/2 c chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 3 ounces chilled cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
• 2-3 t ice water

Filling
• 3 T (1/4 stick) butter
• 4 + c chopped leeks (6-7 medium leeks)
• 5 eggs
• 2 c cream
• 1/2 t salt
• 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper plus more atop tarts
• 8 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Crust:

Blend flour and salt in processor; add butter and cream cheese. Using on/off turns, pulse until blended, then add ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time until moist clumps form.  Gather dough; shape into 6-inch-long log.  Wrap and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.  Cut log into 24 1/4-inch-thick rounds.   With floured rolling pin and then hands, press 1 round into greased cups of 2 – 12-c muffin tins and freeze for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Leek filling:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until tender, then cool.  Whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper together.

Spoon leeks into pastry shells.   Sprinkle with goat cheese, and cover with egg mixture.  Add a little more black pepper.  Bake until set, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans briefly and remove tartlets.  Serve immediately or cool and re-warm to serve.

These were easy and delicious.  The crust recipe is very easy to work with.  I made small tartlets by lining the muffin tins just halfway up the sides of the tins, and had about 30 tartlets.

*stick the cream cheese in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes prior to use to make it easier to cube

Seafood Creole

2 pounds Maine shrimp, peeled
1 1/4 lb Maine scallops, quartered and tough muscle removed
2 32 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
2 med. onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chopped green onions
handful of chopped fresh parsley
3 bay leaves
Salt & Pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 +/-  cup water, white wine, or stock (shrimp)
2 tbs. flour
3 tbs. oil
Hot sauce  such as Louisiana Hot Sauce or Tabasco (optional)
Cooked white rice

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly until the flour becomes golden brown (this is a classic blonde roux). Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, then add the bell pepper and celery and sauté for another 15 minutes. Add the garlic, stir briefly until fragrant, then stir in the tomatoes, cayenne and bay leaves. Cook over med-low for a minimum of 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, reducing heat as needed. The sauce should thicken considerably. Twenty minutes before dinner, cook the rice.

Just a few minutes before serving, season the scallops and shrimp with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium. Add the scallops and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the shrimp. Cook about 2 more minutes, until seafood is just done. Check the mixture’s thickness — the seafood will have thinned the sauce; add water wine or stock to thin to desired consistency. Taste and add seasoning or hot sauce as needed; serve and swoon.

Sage Butter Sauce with Parmesan

  • 4 T butter
  • 20 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 T stock, broth or wine
  • 5 T grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fettuccine or linguine for 4, cooked

Over medium low heat, melt butter then add sage leaves and cook until edges curl and butter is dark amber 5-6 minutes. Drain crisped sage on paper towels. Add stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan. Serve over pasta, fresh sauteed vegetables, or roasted butternut squash; garnish with crumbled sage leaves. AMAZING.

Serves 4

Sundried Tomato Pesto

This is delicious on pizza.  Toss on some arugula dressed with a lemony vinaigrette as soon as it comes out of the oven.  WOW!  Or try the pesto tossed with pasta, and some pecorino cheese.

  • 1/2 cup (packed) fresh arugula leaves
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Seared Scallops with Ginger Sauce

img_3712We made this dish with the last of the season’s fresh sea scallops.  We served it with white rice, butter lettuce salad with lemon dressing, and fresh asparagus, sauteed with olive oil and a little garlic.  it was amazing!

24 Atlantic scallops
3 T butter
3 T neutral oil
2 T ginger root, minced or grated
2 cloves garlic or 1 large
¼ t red pepper flakes
¼ c dry white wine
2 T unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2T soy sauce
1 t honey
3 T cilantro, minced
1 scallion, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil until hot but not smoking.  Season scallops with salt and pepper.  Add half the scallops to the skillet and sear until brown, 1-2 minutes per side, turning once.  Transfer to bowl and sear remaining scallops.  Transfer to bowl and keep warm.

Add ginger, garlic and red pepper to pan, stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add wine, vinegar, soy and honey and boil, scraping up fond, until sauce is slightly reduced.  Return scallops to pan with any juices.  Simmer until scallops are warm.  Stir in cilantro and scallion.  Serve with rice, drizzled with sauce, and prepare to swoon.

Cider Brined Turkey

This recipe originated at Epicurious.com; I’ve tweaked it to suit my tastes.

Start 2 days ahead.

* 4 quarts apple cider, divided
* 1 1/2 cups kosher salt  **** must be kosher salt or turkey will be too salty!****
* 1/4 cup whole allspice
* 6 whole cloves
* 8 bay leaves
* 4 quarts cold water

**homemade turkey broth

Simmer 1 quart cider, salt, allspice, and bay for 5 minutes, stirring often. Cool completely.  Add remaining 3 quarts cider and 4 quarts water.  Remove the giblets and place turkey in brine. Cover and refrigerate for 18 hours.

Make turkey broth with the giblets. Brown the giblets well in a pan with plenty of butter.  When well browned, add a healthy splash of white wine and deglaze the pan.  Add water to cover the giblets, and simmer slowly until the broth smells rich and flavorful.  Cool and refrigerate until needed.

Drain turkey and rinse.  Arrange on several layers of paper towels in roasting pan. Refrigerate uncovered overnight to further dry the turkey and promote a crisp skin.  Roast at 350°F for about 4 hours for a stuffed 20 lb. bird, basting with pan juices and turkey broth.  Remove from oven when a thermometer in the thigh reads 175°F and let rest for 30 minutes.  Any remaining turkey broth can be used to make gravy.  DO NOT use a salted purchased stock for gravy, as the pan juices are quite salty, but when mixed with the unsalted broth, will work for gravy.

Makes enough brine for a 20 lb bird.  (Mine was 16 lbs.)

This was delicious.  I think the brine would be great for chicken or pork, too.