Thursday, February 19, 2015

Oven roasted potatoes (and vegetables)


This is a very simple and flexible recipe, given to me by my friend Isabel.  She made it with potatoes only, which is what I did for a few years.  Then I realized you could add other vegetables too.  I've suggested the ones I usually put in; I'm sure others would work too--though you may have to stagger when you put them in if you use something like green beans.  I haven't given amounts, because any amount is fine.  I tend to make more than we will eat at one meal and either freeze the leftovers, or have them for lunch the next day.  You can also make these vegetables right along with a baked chicken, and then you have a whole meal, all ready at the same time.

potatoes, with peel left on, washed and cut into chunks (about the size of a large walnut)
carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
onions, peeled and quartered
garlic powder
thyme (or fresh rosemary, if you happen to have it on hand)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.  Put vegetables in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika (generously), garlic powder, and thyme (generously).  Drizzle olive oil lightly over the vegetables and mix well--vegies should be just lightly coated.  Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet (or, for easier cleanup, line with aluminum foil and lightly grease that).  Pour vegies onto the baking sheet--they should be in just one layer so they get browned.   (When cooking a huge amount for a crowd, I've used two baking sheets.) Bake for about an hour, turning once during cooking if you think of it.  Vegetables are done when everything is nicely browned and cooked completely through.

Salmon au poivre

I was dubious about how much pepper is used in this recipe, but the recipe comes from a cookbook that I have used a lot, and find very reliable.  No need to be shy with the pepper--this turns out great!  There's something about the pepper that brings out the taste of the salmon, and it also provides a nice crust on the fish.

The recipe is super simple.  The only small effort involved is grinding the pepper.  I use a coffee grinder for this, which makes it easy--you just have to clean out the grinder well before putting it back into coffee service.

adapted from Simply Delicious (a WeightWatchers cookbook)
serves 4

1 lb. salmon fillets
2 T. fresh or bottled lemon juice
1 large clove of garlic, minced (minced garlic from a jar is also fine)
1/2 t. salt
3 T. coarsely ground black pepper 

Place the salmon in a shallow ceramic or glass dish (not metal).  Add the lemon juice, garlic, and salt, turning the salmon to coat both sides.  Let stand about 5 minutes.

On a plate about the size of a salmon fillet, spread out the pepper.  Lightly press the salmon into the pepper, coating both sides.

Spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil spray and set over medium heat.  Add salmon and cook about 4-5 minutes each side, or until done the way you like it.  (I used a George Foreman grill, cooking for a little under 4 minutes.)

I served this with oven-roasted potatoes and corn salad--great meal!  I'll post recipes for those later.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Apples with ice cream and dulce de leche

David and I never have dessert with our everyday dinners, but I enjoy making dessert when we're having guests.  Here's a recipe I've made a couple of times that I really like.  It's easy to make, and easy to fit into a multi-course dinner prep.  Making the dulce de leche is especially fun.  After the first time I made it, I wrote a note in the book, "Yes, it's really this easy!"  I just looked online, and there certainly are more complicated ways to make it from scratch, but I see no reason to try them.  Just simmering an unopened can of condensed milk for 90 minutes produces great results! 

adapted from Diane Rossen Worthington, Seriously Simple: Easy Recipes for Creative Cooks
serves 4

3 T. unsalted butter
4 baking apples (Golden Delicious are good), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4" slices
2 t. sugar
good vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup dulce de leche (recipe below); can also use purchased caramel sauce, warmed

Prepare the dulce de leche sauce ahead of time—can be done as much as 2 weeks ahead.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, over medium heat.  Add and apply slices, stir to evenly coat with butter and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the sugar and cook for another 5-6 minutes, or until the apples are somewhat browned and soft, but not mushy.

The apples can be prepared as much as 4 hours ahead of serving.  When ready to serve, add a tablespoon or two of water and re-heat.

To serve:  Put a scoop of ice cream in a bowl or small plate.  Add apple slices.  Top with dulce de leche.

dulche de leche
1 recipe of this makes enough for double the apple recipe above

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla extract

Choose a large, heavy sauce pan into which you can fit the can of condensed milk and also put a lid on the pan.  Take the wrapper off the can (or leave it on and pull out when it falls off during boiling).  Put the unopened can in the pan and add water to come up about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the can.  Bring to a simmer over medium  heat and then reduce the heat, partially cover, and cook for 45 minutes.  Turn the can over and simmer for another 45 minutes, for a total of 90 minutes cooking time.

Let the can cool in the pan of water until it reaches room temperature.  Open the can and pour out the contents into a small bowl.  Add the vanilla and stir in.  Can be stored in the refrigerator up to two weeks.  Bring to room temperature before serving.