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Category Archives: side dishes

Puréed Corn with Cherry Tomatoes and Concord Grapes

This recipe was inspired by a photo on Instagram. It’s a bed of puréed corn that is warmed and topped with colorful cherry tomatoes and seedless Concord grapes. The original picture idea had melon balls but I could not pass up these seedless Concord grapes! Serves 8

Ingredients

6 ears fresh sweet corn

3 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes

1 pint colorful cherry tomatoes

1/2 pint seedless Concord grapes or other fruit or vegetable of your choice

Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

Aged thick balsamic vinegar

Flaked sea salt

Procedure:

  • Bring a large cooking pot of water to a boil
  • Add the corn and cover
  • Bring to a boil
  • Turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes
  • Drain and cool
  • Using a sharp knife cut the corn off the cob
  • Place corn in a food processor
  • Purée
  • Add melted butter and pepper flakes
  • Purée until completely smooth
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Serve warm. Reheat if you make this ahead and refrigerate before serving

Assemble the salads:

  • Arrange about 1/2 cup of corn on the plate. Make a shape or smear it around. Think of it as painting on a plate
  • Top with an arrangement of sliced or halved tomatoes and whole grapes
  • Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Sprinkle with flaked sea salt

Voila!

Corn is cut off the cob and placed in a food processor

Melted butter and hot red pepper flakes are added

Purée again and season with salt and pepper if desired. I don’t think it needs salt

The corn mix is puréed to a very smooth consistency and arranged on serving plates with colorful tomatoes and grapes.

When I find the pineapple tomatillo I will add that for a sweet taste. It should be ripening in September in Michigan.

I really want to grow them in my garden. The paper like husk is beautiful and a nice addition to food presentation

The dressing is not really needed but just a few drops finishes it off. You can apply the oil and vinegar artfully to look like abstract strokes or drops of a modern painting

Below is the original photo which inspired me. TheJamLab was out to dinner here

Enjoy!

Scalloped Creamed Potatoes

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Scalloped Creamed Potatoes is a comfort food my family has made for decades. The recipe comes from The New Antoinette Pope School Cook Book and was a professional cooking school in Chicago where my mom took classes during the 40s and 50s.

It’s a favorite to make a double batch for during the holidays when we have a group of 8 or more and want to have enough for at least 2 meals. The recipe uses Velveeta cheese because it melts so well. The original used American cheese. The Antoinette Pope School Cook Book was published in 1948, and again in 1953, 1961 and 1973. Velveeta was prolific then!

Here is a single recipe using a deep 1 and a 1/2 quart or 2 quart deep casserole. To make a double recipe just do that and use 5 pounds of potatoes. I prefer yellow.  Also use 2 casseroles  Below I used a 2 and 1/2 quart & a 1 and 1/2 quart

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Ingredients

2 to 2 and 1/2 pounds peeled yellow or red potatoes, sliced very thin with a mandolin

1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt, optional

1/4 teaspoon pepper, optional

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thin with a mandolin (more or less onion as you like)

1 pound Velveeta cheese, cubed for quick melting

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

2 and 1/4 cups hot milk

1 teaspoon salt

  • before peeling the potatoes, make the cheese sauce
  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • in a medium saucepan melt the butter
  • whisk in the flour and simmer a few minutes
  • slowly whisk in the hot milk and bring to a simmer.
  • add the salt
  • whisk and simmer 5 minutes
  • add the Velveeta and whisk till smooth
  • remove from heat, cover and set aside
  • butter your casserole(s)
  • peel and slice the potatoes and onion
  • layer some potatoes on the bottom of the casserole
  • sprinkle with salt and pepper is the original recipe, but I skip this step
  • layer some onion rings as desired
  • layer some cheese sauce
  • continue layers ending with a generous amount of cheese sauce on top
  • cover casserole and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
  • lower temperature to 300 degrees and remove cover.
  • bake 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender
  • if sauce begins to boil over, place a baking sheet or piece of foil under the casserole
  • the top should be well browned. If not, place it under the broiler a few minutes
  • for a double recipe increase the baking time about 15 minutes

My Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe is very similar. It uses the same cheese sauce and the recipe comes from the same cookbook! Look above under Recipes, then Sides for Baked Macaroni and Cheese.

Voila!

Steamed Spinach with Garlic, Raisins and Pine Nuts

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Food & Wine Magazine published this as Catalan-Style Spinach. It’s very light with a sweet and crunchy bite! This serves 8 generous portions using 40 oz raw spinach!

Ingredients

1/2 cup raisins, soaked in boiling water and then drained for plumping

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted in a hot fry pan

40 oz stemmed spinach

1/4 cup olive oil

4 large cloves garlic, very finely chopped

Kosher salt and pepper

Follow these steps:

  • In a very large cooking pot bring 1/2 cup water to a boil
  • Add half the spinach in large handfuls, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more
  • Cook over moderately high heat stirring until just wilted, about 5 minutes
  • Transfer to a colander to drain
  • Repeat with another 1/2 cup of water and remaining spinach
  • In a large saucepan heat olive oil until shimmering
  • Saute garlic over moderately high heat stirring constantly until fragrant. Don’t over cook
  • Stir in spinach, raisins and pine nuts and a generous pinch of salt
  • Cook stirring until spinach is hot, about 3 minutes
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot
  • Voila!

 

 

 

Roasted Tomatoes, Onion and Garlic

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These little cherry size tomatoes are spooned over toasty bread spread with labneh, a soft yogurt cheese. You can find that recipe here too!

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I found these little gems at our local farmers market. It’s the end of October in mid Michigan and we’re seeing the last of the vine ripened tomatoes, so it’s time to roast two batches for the week. These picture are of a double recipe!

Ingredients

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, whole or halved, your choice

1 large onion, cut in wedges and then cut in half crosswise

6-8 cloves garlic, mashed and unpeeled

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Toss together on a large baking sheet onions, garlic and tomatoes
  • Drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Gently toss
  • Place in hot oven
  • Roast 30 minutes or so, until tomatoes have burst, onions are tender and some browning has started. Stir gently every 10 minutes
  • Toast your sourdough or other crusty bread. Spread with soft goat cheese or labneh.
  • Spoon the tomatoes on top. Drizzle with a thick aged balsamic vinegar.
  • Sprinkle with flaked sea salt
  • Serve as whole pieces of toast for lunch or with dinner, like a bruschetta
  • Or cut them in bite size pieces and serve as an appetizer
  • Voila!

These vegetables are ready for roasting in a 400 degree oven

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Wilted sweet vegetables ready to eat! Scrape all the liquids and leftovers into a storage container. Use a rubber spatula to get every drop!

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Voila!

Crispy Baked Onion Rings


We love restaurant style onion rings! The whole fresh made rings are best. The chopped onion version is not as good. Too bad they have to be deep fried and are so greasy! 

But now you can make home made crispy onion rings without all that fat and mess!

1 large white onion, about the size of a softball!

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups original panko style breadcrumbs

3 1-gallon size Ziploc storage bags

Spray vegetable oil

1 Parchment paper lined baking pan

  • Take the large white onion and slice off the ends and the outer peel
  • Slice the onion horizontally into 4 even slices, about 1/2-3/4 inch wide. Slice carefully so the rings stay together.
  • Seperate the rings where they naturally break apart. Try to keep at least 2 layers in each ring
  • Place the buttermilk in a medium bowl. Add the onion rings and let sit 30 minutes. Mix around a few times.
  • While the onions marinate get your Ziploc bags ready.
  • In one Ziploc place 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • In another bag place 3 beaten eggs 
  • In the last bag place 2 cups panko style breadcrumbs
  • After 30 minutes drain the onion rings in a colander
  • Add half the onion rings to the bag of flour, zip closed and mix around well. 
  • Shake off the excess flour.
  • Add the floured onion rings to the bag of eggs. Zip closed and mix around until coated
  • Shake off the excess egg and place the onion rings in the breadcrumbs. Close bag and mix around until coated.
  • Place the panko coated onion rings on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Repeat with the other half of the onion rings.
  • Place the smaller rings and inner center pieces inside the larger rings so they all fit in one baking pan.
  • Spray with vegetable oil until lightly coated
  • Bake at 375-385 degrees for 30 minutes. The onion rings will be lightly browned. If the oven is too hot they will blacken or brown too quickly!
  • Serve immediately
  • Voila!

Arancini, a Sicilian Rice Ball, Cajun Style

  

Arancini are rice balls famous in Sicily. They are made from leftover rice and risotto. The center is traditionally filled with a bit of ham and cheese or a ragu of meat and vegetables. The large fist size balls are breaded and deep fried. It’s a fast food you can pick up at a take away or order at a restaurant . We tried the traditional and gourmet varieties in Sicily this past spring. The gourmet type can be filled with anything from shrimp to pistachio!

Arancini from Palermo filled with ham and melted soft cheese. Notice the saffron color of the rice.   

These Arancini are filled with a ground meat and vegetable ragù.  
 
 I made Cajun Dirty Rice this week and had a lot of leftovers, so my husband was inspired to make Arancini!

First he molded a snowball size ball of Dirty Rice by taking a handful of rice in one hand and then placing a tablespoon of chopped andouille sausage in the middle of it. Then he took another handful of rice to combine with the first to make a  ball. 

Rice balls ready for the bread coating

  

Arancini ready to bake instead of frying

Next he rolled them in 3 layers

1st: rolled in flour

2nd: rolled in beaten egg

3rd: rolled in Panko breadcrumbs 

Next he placed them on a baking sheet lined with a rack 

Finally he sprayed them with olive oil

Baked at 350 for 40 minutes

  

Voila!

Dirty Rice

  

This is Dirty Rice, Baked Spicy Cajun Chicken and Gingersnap Gravy.

Dirty Rice is a Cajun recipe that Paul Prudhomme made famous with his spicy style of cooking!

The Cajun people originated in southern France, emigrated to Nova Scotia in the early 1600’s, and settled in a colony that became known as Acadia. In the 1700’s the British drove them out and many migrated to Louisiana where they were well received by the French population there. Many settled along waterways and became farmers, trappers and fishermen.

Chef Prudhomme developed his skills and shared his love of Cajun food with the world.

So what’s the difference between Creole and Cajun cooking? Both cuisines were based on the use of local fresh products. 

Creole originated in New Orleans and is a mixture of the traditions of French, Spanish, Italian, American Indian, African and other ethnic groups.

Cajun is very old French country cooking which began in France, moved to Nova Scotia and then came to Louisiana. Creole is more sophisticated and complex than Cajun. It’s city cooking.

Creole cooking was prepared by the cooks and servants for the changing aristocracy of New Orleans. Cajun was prepared by country folks for their own families.

Here’s the ingredients

  
Paul Prudhommes recipes usually have a seasoning mix. My recipe is 1/3 the salt, cayenne and black pepper he uses. I like hot spicy food, but Paul’s heat is too much for me. Our Louisiana friends tell us the Cajun food does not have as much heat as Prudhommes. 

  • Combine these seasonings in a small bowl:

1 and 1/3 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/3 teaspoons black pepper

2 and 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 teaspoons dry mustard

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • In a large saucepan combine over high heat:

1 pound chicken gizzards and hearts, ground

1 pound ground fresh pork

4 bay leaves

  

  • Cook and stir until meat in thoroughly browned and broken up into tiny pieces with your spoon, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the seasoning mix and stir well
  • Add:

1 cup finely chopped onions

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

4 teaspoon minced garlic

  

  • Reduce to medium heat. Cook and stir 10 minutes.
  • Add 4 cups chicken stock and simmer with the lid partly on, about 10 minutes.

   
 

  • Add 1 and 1/2 cups uncooked rice.

  

  • Stir, cover and reduce to the lowest heat possible. Cook 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and keep covered 10 minutes or until rice is done. 
  • Serve immediately alone, as a side dish or with  Gingersnap Gravy and Spicy Baked Chicken

  
This rice a very meaty. Yummy as a main dish or a side. Traditionally the rice is served in a rounded form. I spooned some in a small cup and then inverted it on the plate. Gingersnap Gravy is a surprising addition, but not essential

What do you think?