Wednesday, May 30, 2007

SPRING SUPPER ~ PESTO FOCACCIA SANDWICH & MEDITERRANEAN GREEK SALAD


~ Centaurea montana (Mountain Bluet)

a friendly face in the garden
_____________
PESTO & ROSEMARY FOCACCIA SANDWICH
~ Serve with Mediterranean Greek Salad
*
Large focaccia or ciabatta bread
4 oz. pesto (homemade or good quality store bought)
1/2 lb. thinly sliced Rosemary ham (or Black Forest)
1/2 lb. thinly sliced roasted turkey breast
6 slices Provolone cheese
1/2 thinly sliced red onion
fresh basil leaves
  • Preheat oven to 450-degrees.
  • Slice bread in half horizontally. Spread pesto evenly over each cut slice.
  • Layer ham, turkey, and provolone evenly over bottom half. Top with remaining bread and wrap in foil.
  • Bake 10 minutes. Uncover top of loaf and cover with fresh basil leaves. Slice into 6 wedges.

____________________________

MEDITERRANEAN GREEK SALAD

1/2 lb. halves crosswise sliced green beans

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 clove crushed garlic

1 chopped shallot

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. fresh oregano

1 tsp. fresh thyme

3 large fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

coarse salt & freshly ground pepper

1 lb. halved grape tomatoes

1/2 thinly sliced red onion

1 cup crumbled Greek feta cheese

  • Blanch green beans in boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, pat dry and set aside.
  • Combine vinegar, garlic, shallot, mustard, oregano, thyme and basil in a blender. Slowly add olive oil. Season with salt & pepper.
  • In large salad bowl, combine green beans, tomato halves, sliced onion and crumbled feta cheese. Toss with vinaigrette.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

SPRING SUPPER ~ WILD MUSHROOM FETTUCCINE


~ Columbine
__________________
WILD MUSHROOM SPINACH FETTUCCINE
~ Delicious pasta dish if you are lucky enough to still have morel mushrooms. If not, use an assortment of shiitake, oyster or cremini mushrooms.
*
1 lb. spinach fettuccine
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped wild leeks or shallots
1 lb. sliced morel or assorted mushrooms
4 plump cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 pint heavy cream (or lighten up using organic chicken broth)
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
pinch of coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 oz. shaved Parmesan cheese
additional chopped thyme & parsley for garnish
  • While pasta water is cooking, melt butter in large skillet. Add leeks or shallots, mushrooms, and garlic. Saute until moisture evaporates.
  • Add sherry to pan and cook until liquid almost evaporates. Pour in cream and heat gently until hot.
  • Add parsley, thyme, and salt & pepper.
  • Drain pasta and add to mushrooms, tossing to coat.
  • Serve in large pasta bowls. Sprinkle with additional herbs and top with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Friday, May 25, 2007

SPRING BRUNCH ~ MOREL QUICHE & RHUBARB BREAD


~ Wildflower garden
_____________________
MOREL QUICHE
~ A spring brunch recipe from Between the Lakes (A Collection of Michigan Recipes)
*
4 oz. diced lean bacon
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup sliced wild onions or scallions
1 Tbsp. butter
4 cups cleaned & dried morel mushrooms
1 egg white
1/2 cup diced Gruyere cheese
2 cups scalded and cooled half & half
3 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
butter for sauteing
Pate Brisee
  • Cook bacon in saute pan until almost crisp. Drain and set aside.
  • Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in pan and add wild onions. Saute until translucent and set aside.
  • Melt 1 Tbsp. butter. Add a batch of mushrooms and saute just until tender. Set aside.
  • Repeat with remaining mushrooms, adding 1 Tbsp. butter for each batch.
  • Roll Pate Brisee into a circle. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate, trimming and fluting the edge. Pierce with fork tines and brush with egg white.
  • Layer bacon, onions & mushrooms in pastry. Sprinkle with cheese. Whisk half & half into eggs in a mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour over the cheese. Bake at 375-degrees for 35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve warm. (6-8 servings)
Pate Brisee
1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 - 3/4 cups water
Lightly rub butter into flour & salt in a bowl with fingers, then by hand. Make a well and add gradually add water, stirring with index finger moving to outer edge to incorporate flour. Form into ball and let rest for up to 2 hours.
___________________________________
RHUBARB BREAD
~ Favorite old 1984 R.S.V.P. Bon Appetit adapted recipe from The Catnip Mouse, a tearoom in Riverton, Connecticut.
*
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups diced uncooked fresh rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. grated orange peel
1 Tbsp. room temperature butter
  • Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. Line bottom and sides with waxed paper.
  • Combine brown sugar and oil in large bowl and beat well. Mix butter, milk, egg, vanilla, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Add to brown sugar mixture and blend thoroughly. Gently fold in flour, rhubarb and nuts. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
  • Combine sugar, orange peel and butter in small bowl and blend well with fork. Sprinkle over batter.
  • Bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pans, then turn onto racks. Remove waxed paper before serving.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

THE ESSENCE of SPRING in MICHIGAN ~ LAKE SUPERIOR WHITEFISH with FIDDLEHEAD FERNS & MORELS

Gardener's Note: Fiddlehead fern fronds emerge from the soil coiled into tight pinwheels and are edible only before they begin to unfurl into their mature form.



LAKE SUPERIOR WHITEFISH with FILLDLEHEAD FERNS & MORELS
~ adapted from numerous recipes

*

1 1/2 - 2 lbs. fresh Lake Superior whitefish fillets
1/2 cup Michigan white wine
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. white pepper
pinch of sea salt
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped thyme
1 cup Fiddlehead ferns plus 1/2 cup for garnish
1/2 cup chopped wild leeks (or green onions)
a heaping handful or more of morel mushrooms
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
chive blossoms
  • Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
  • Place fish in baking dish. Whisk together wine & mustard and pour over fish. Sprinkle with salt, white pepper, and fresh thyme. Cover fish with wild leeks , morels, and fiddleheads. Cover loosely and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Carefully remove fish and keep warm.
  • Pour fishing liquid into saucepan and heat on high. Reduce heat and whisk in butter. Add remaining fiddleheads and chive blossoms. Cook 1 minute.
  • Arrange fish on hot serving dish. Pour rich sauce over fish.
(4 servings)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SPRING SUPPER (on a record breaking hot evening) ~ GRILLED SHRIMP SALAD with BASIL VINAIGRETTE

GARDENER'S NOTE: When planting basil in the herb garden, pinch tips to encourage growth then use in your favorite fresh basil recipe.


~ Friends in the wildflower garden
____________________
GRILLED SHRIMP SALAD with BASIL VINAIGRETTE
~ Fast, refreshing and easy supper for a summer-like spring evening
*
2 lbs. peeled large raw shrimp (fresh or thawed frozen)
1 1/2 lb. asparagus spears (or trimmed fresh green beans)
1/2 lb. crumbled cooked bacon
1 1/2 cup crumbled feta or shredded Parmesan cheese (reserve a bit for garnish)
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts (reserve a bit for garnish)
8 (12-inch) wooden skewers
Basil vinaigrette:
1/2 cup chopped fresh sweet basil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4-6 minced shallots
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Lawry's Seasoned pepper
pinch of coarse salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Soak skewers in water while preparing salad.
  • Combine ingredients for Basil Vinaigrette, whisking in olive oil a bit at a time until blended.
  • Combine shrimp with 3/4 cup of vinaigrette in plastic bag and chill for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, blanch asparagus (or green beans) in boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water. Remove, pat dry and chill.
  • Remove shrimp from marinade and thread onto skewers.
  • Grill over medium-high with lid down for 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink. Remove from skewers and toss with asparagus (green beans), bacon, feta or Parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts and remaining 3/4 cup Basil Vinaigrette. Sprinkle with additional cheese and toasted pine nuts. Serve on chilled plate surrounded by spring flowers from the garden.

Monday, May 21, 2007

'HEART SMART' SUPPER ~ GINGER CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS

Gardener's Note: This brilliant 'old-fashioned' bleeding heart POPS in a shade garden . Surprisingly hearty with long lasting blooms, its sunny leaves will glow throughout spring and summer.
~ Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart')
_______________________
GINGER CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS
~ Heart healthy meal everyone will enjoy
*
3 (4-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
3 cloves crushed fresh garlic
3 Tbsp. Tamari or organic soy sauce
3 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. sesame oil (spicy or regular)
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cornstarch
4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil or peanut oil
1 1/2 cups thin matchstick sliced carrots
2 cups julienne sliced red, yellow or orange pepper
1 cup matchstick sliced snow peas
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
3/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
Bibb lettuce leaves for 6 servings
  • Cut chicken into thin strips.
  • Combine soy sauce, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and cornstarch. Pour over chicken while prepping vegetables.
  • Heat wok or large skillet. Pour in oil and heat. Remove chicken from marinade and carefully add to pan. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Pour marinade over chicken. Add carrots, peppers, sprouts, snow peas, and onions. Cook 3 minutes or until sauce slightly thickens, stirring often. Add almonds.
  • Spoon 1/4-1/2 cup chicken mixture into lettuce leaf and roll up.


~ Bleeding hearts

____________________________________

Saturday, May 19, 2007

REJOICE ... IT'S 'MAY WINE' TIME

Gardener's note: Fragrant sweet woodruff, a low-growing perennial herb, is an ideal woodland or shade tolerant ground cover. Its sweet smell intensifies as the plant dries ... perfect for strewing throughout the house as a room freshener. When in bloom, like the Germans, greet the season and rejoice ... it's time for May wine!
~ Sweet woodruff
(Galium odoratum)

_____________________________


MAY WINE
~ Once tasted, this simple pleasure will surely become a haunting spring ritual
*
2 bottles Rhine or Moselle wine *
a handful of sweet woodruff sprigs
fresh strawberries & sweet woodruff flowers for garnish
Rinse woodruff sprigs, and stuff into uncorked wine. Allow to steep several hours in refrigerator. Strain into wine glass & garnish with a fresh strawberry and pinched top of blooming sweet woodruff.
________________________
MAY WINE CHAMPAGNE PUNCH
1 gallon good German wine *
handful of sweet woodruff sprigs
1-2 pints fresh strawberries
4 Tbsp. sugar
champagne
edible blossoms from the garden
Stuff sweet woodruff in wine bottle or in large bowl. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Strain and pour into large glass punch bowl. Add sugar and mix well. Add an ice block (pretty with frozen flowers inside). Blend in champagne. Garnish with woodruff flowers and edible flowers blossoms from the garden (Johnny-jump ups, pansies, rose petals, borage, etc.) Place a strawberry in each glass and top with sweet woodruff flower.
* Try May Wine and May Wine Champagne Punch with 'Award-Winning' Michigan wines and sparkling wines (http://www.michiganwines.com/Awards/awards.html)

Friday, May 18, 2007

FRIDAY NIGHT FISH FEAST ~ PAN-ROASTED SALMON with DANDELIONS & SHERRY VINAIGRETTE

~ Peek-a-boo dandelion
_______________________

PAN-ROASTED SALMON with DANDELIONS & SHERRY VINAIGRETTE

~ Jimmy Schmidt's (Rattlesnake Club in Detroit) springtime favorite

featured in the Detroit Free Press (4/22/98)

*

1/4 cup virgin olive oil (a little extra to saute in), divided

1/4 cup diced thick-sliced slab bacon

2 boneless, skinless salmon fillets (about 6-7 oz. each)

coarsely ground black peppercorns

salt to taste

4 paper-thin slivered cloves of garlic

1/2 lb. cleaned dandelion leaves

1/2 cup cream sherry

2 Tbsp. aged sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp. grained mustard

2 Tbsp. fresh-snipped chives

1 Tbsp. toasted mustard seeds (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
  • Heat medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with a few drops of olive oil. Add diced bacon, cooking until very crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove, drain, and reserve.
  • Clean skillet and return to heat. Add a few drop of olive oil. Heavily season salmon fillets with pepper and a pinch of salt. Place salmon into pan and sear until starting to brown, abut 3 minutes. Turn over and cook one minute on other side. Remove from pan.
  • Wipe skillet and return to heat. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and slivered garlic, cooking until tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Add dandelion leaves and cook until just beginning to wilt, abut 2-3 minutes. Add reserved bacon and season to taste. Form dandelions into 2 mounds with in the pan. Remove pan from heat and position salmon fillets atop dandelions. Add cream sherry over the fish and dandelions. Cover all with a circle of parchment paper.
  • Place skillet on lower rack of oven, cooking about 8 minutes for medium or to your liking. Carefully remove pan from oven.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine sherry vinegar, mustard and remaining 3 Tbsp. of olive oil. Season as necessary with salt & pepper.
  • To serve: Position salmon atop dandelion mound in the center of a warm serving plate. Drizzle any pan juices around plate. Spoon sherry vinaigrette over fish and onto plate. Sprinkle with chives & mustard seeds. Serve immediately. ( 2 servings )

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

SOUP OF THE WEEK ~ CREAMY MOREL SOUP

~ Trillium and maidenhair fern

_____________________________

CREAMY MOREL SOUP

~ A delicious soup if you are fortunate enough to fine spring's elusive, most sought-after mushroom.

*

1 lb. finely chopped morels

juice of 1 lemon

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 chopped clove garlic

2 cup wild leeks

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

pinch of coarse salt & freshly cracked pepper

2 Tbsp. flour

3 cups organic chicken stock

2 cups heavy cream

  • Clean morels (do not wash but gently wipe dirt away). Sprinkle with lemon juice.
  • Melt butter in large pan over high heat. Add morels, leeks, garlic and parsley. Reduce heat and saute until juices evaporate.
  • Stir in flour, remove from heat and blend in broth. Bring to boil, and simmer gently 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
  • Blend in batches, returning to pot. Gently whisk in cream and taste for seasoning. Reheat and serve.


~ Trillium and maidenhair fern

_____________________


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

GRILLED VIDALIA ONION & STEAK SANDWICH

~ Downy Yellow Violet

___________________

GRILLED VIDALIA ONION & STEAK SANDWICH

~ Delicious spring combo from Cooking Light

*

Steak:

3/4 cup cola

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground chipotle chile pepper

4 crushed cloves garlic

1 crushed bay leaf

1 (1 1/2 lb.) trimmed flank steak

Dressing:

3/4 cup minced arugula

1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise

Remaining Ingredients:

Cooking spray

6 (1/2-inch thick) slices Vidalia onion

6 (2-oz.) Kaiser rolls

12 (1/4-inch thick) slices tomato

  • To prepare steak, combine first 7 ingredients in large zip-lock bag. Add steak, seal and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours, turning occasionally. Remove steak, reserving marinade. Pour marinade into microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Set aside.
  • Prepare grill.
  • Combine arugula and mayonnaise for dressing; set aside.
  • Coat grill with cooking spray. Grill steak 8 minutes or until steak is medium-rare or desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes.
  • Grill onions for 4 minutes on each side, basting occasionally with marinade. Grill rolls, cut side down, for 2 minutes.
  • Slice steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Spread 2 Tbsp. dressing on bottom of each half of roll. Divide steak, tomato, and onion evenly. Top with remaining half. ( 6 servings )



~ White Violet

_________________

Monday, May 14, 2007

IN HONOR of MOTHER'S DAY ~ MOTHER'S SWEET BAKED BEANS

~ Anne
_________________
MOTHER'S SWEET BAKED BEANS
~ This French Canadian recipe has been handed down for generations but tastes different, depending on the measurements of the cook.
*
2 lbs. dry navy beans
1 - 1/2 cup white sugar
(1/2 cup brown sugar optional for the last 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Crisco (lard in original recipe)
2 Tbsp. Coleman's dry mustard
2 tsp. salt
(1/2 lb. salt pork ~ optional)
  • Carefully sort for stones or discolored beans. Wash well and soak in cold water overnight.
  • Drain beans and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and simmer, skimming off foam, until skins begin to burst when blown upon. (Time varies depending on freshness of beans.)
  • Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Transfer beans to baking dish and cover with bean juice, reserving remaining juice if needed during baking. Combine beans with sugar, Crisco, dry mustard and salt. If desired, cover with salt pork.
  • Bake 3-4 hours, adding additional bean juice if needed to keep beans from drying out. Enjoy as is or top with homemade chili sauce.


~ Forget-me-not
( Myosotis scorpiodes )
_________________
Gardener's Note: Prevalent along Michigan's rivers and streams, this dainty blue wildflower from the Borage family signifies spring. Its name, perhaps derived from its unpleasant flavor and smell, or a lover's lament shouting, "Forget-me-not", as he toppled down a steep riverbank fetching the beckoning flower for his fair lady.

Friday, May 11, 2007

FRIDAY NIGHT FISH FEAST ~ GRILLED TUNA TOPPED with AVOCADO SALSA

GARDENING NOTE: Celanine poppy ( Stylophorum diphyllum) and Virginia Bluebells (Mertenisa virginica) are two lovely companion plants for naturalizing in the early wildflower garden. Since plants go dormant, both are a perfect choice for a hosta garden.

GRILLED TUNA with AVOCADO SALSA

~ two delicious complimentary flavors

*

4 (6-oz) 1/4-inch thick tuna steaks
pinch sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
2 Tbsp. lime juice & zest for fish

juice of 1 lime & zest for salsa
1 cup chopped and seeded Roma tomato
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 pitted and diced avocado
1 seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper
fresh chopped cilantro for garnish


  • Sprinkle fish with salt, pepper, lime juice & zest.
  • Combine remaining ingredients for salsa.
  • Grill fish over hot coals about 7 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Serve topped with salsa, chopped cilantro, and a pitcher of margaritas.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

DANDELION WINE

~ Dandelion
(Taraxacum officanale)

_____________________


GARDENER'S NOTE: Derived from the French Dent de Lion (Lion's Tooth) denoting its toothed edges, this conspicuous herb (purposely transplanted from Europe to the New World), finds its home everywhere in the northern temperate zone. Often considered a troublesome pest, Native Americans and early pioneers made great use of all of its parts. Young blossoms are sweet, honeylike in flavor but become bitter when mature. Because flowers are weather sensitive, opening in the morning and closing at night, pick immediately.
________________________



With summer around the corner with the garden at its peak, lay in the hammock with a copy of Ray Bradbury's poignant novel, DANDELION WINE. Set in the vintage summer of '28, you'll relive your childhood waking up on a fresh summer mornings ... smell freshly mowed grass, green apple trees, new sneakers, old baseball gloves and quench your thirst guzzling homemade lemonade and ... dandelion wine.

*


DANDELION WINE


~ as close a recipe as you might find to Ray Bradbury's ...

compliments of EDIBLE FLOWERS (From Garden to Palate)

*

4 quarts dandelion flowers (remove stem and sepals)
4 quarts granulated sugar
4 quarts boiling water
juice from 2 lemons
juice from 1 orange
1 yeast cake
  • Add dandelion flowers to a large stone crock or jar. Cover with sugar, Add boiling water. When water had cooked to lukewarm, add lemon juice and orange juice. Break up yeast cake and add to the liquid. Stir well. cover loosely and let stand for 24 hours.
  • Strain through cheesecloth and discard solids. Return liquid to crock, loosely cover and let stand for 3 days.
  • Strain through several layers of cheesecloth. Return liquid to crock and allow to ferment. Bottle when all fermentation action stops. Keep at least 3-4 months before drinking. (Makes 1 1/2 gallons of wine)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

LEMON ROSEMARY POUND CAKE

GARDENING NOTE: The Mediterranean herb, Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), has graced gardens for centuries, its decorative appearance rivalling its culinary and medicinal value. Regrettably, it is not hardy where winters are severe. For year round use, dig, pot, and place inside near a sunny window.





~ Magnolia blossoms
__________________
LEMON ROSEMARY POUND CAKE
~ decadent and worth every bite
*
1 lb. unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
5 eggs
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh rosemary (1 tsp. crushed dried)
1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1 1/4 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Lemon Glaze
sprigs of rosemary
flower petals
  • Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease with butter 2 8x4x2-inch loaf pans. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar on medium speed about 6 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in honey. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.
  • Combine cake flour and baking powder. Gradually add to beaten mixture on low speed only until combined. Gently stir in snipped rosemary, lemon extract, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Pour into prepared pans. Bake 45 minutes or until cake tests done with toothpick. Cool 10 minutes before removing. Drizzle with Lemon Glaze. Garnish cake with sprigs of rosemary and scatter with flower petals (like rose, violets, pansy, etc.)
Lemon Glaze
Sift 2/3 cup powdered sugar. Stir in lemon juice.
-------------------
"The botanical name Rosmarinus is derived form the old Latin for 'dew of the sea', a reference to its pale blue dew-like flowers and the fact that it is often grown near the sea. It is a symbol or remembrance and friendship, and is often carried by wedding couples as a sign of love and fidelity.
Tradition says that rosemary will grow for thirty-three years, until it reaches the height of Christ when he was crucified, then it will die. Sprigs of rosemary were placed under pillows at night to ward off evil spirits and bad dreams. The wood was used to make lutes and other musical instruments. "

Monday, May 07, 2007

GRILLED CHICKEN FAJITA PIZZA

Gardening Note: Prune ... prune ... prune.
By now, southern Michigan forsythias have seen their day as well as many flowering trees like Shadblow, cherry, etc. Time to put those sharpened pruners to work. Shape after flowering allows adequate time to initiate new flower buds for next season. Next will be lilacs, etc. Keep a keen eye focused after flowering and your garden will not only look 'well groomed' but thank you with beautiful blooms next spring.
~ Trillium cuneatum
_____________________
GRILLED CHICKEN FAJITA PIZZA
~ If it sounds unusual, it's not in the least. An easy tasty treat after
a busy day in the garden.
*
4 halved boneless chicken breasts
juice of 1 lime & zest
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
1 thin Boboli pizza crust
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup thinly sliced red onions
1 cup red, yellow or orange pepper strips (or mix)
1/2 cup (not too juicy) fresh salsa (or jar picante sauce)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
chopped fresh cilantro
  • Early in the day, marinate chicken breasts in lime juice, zest, olive oil, garlic, cumin, cayenne, cilantro and freshly ground pepper. Refrigerate until grilling time.
  • Preheat oven to 450-degrees. Remove chicken from marinade and grill over medium coals until done, about 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness, flipping once. Allow to rest 3 minutes before slicing into bite-size pieces.
  • Spray pizza pan with Pam. Place Boboli on pan and smooth over with olive oil. Sprinkle with cracked pepper. Spoon drained salsa over crust. Cover with thinly sliced onions, pepper strips, and chicken. Top with shredded cheese and fresh chopped cilantro. Bake about 14 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Slice and let rest a tad before serving. (4 servings)


~ Trillium cuneatum and Virginia bluebells
____________________

Sunday, May 06, 2007

SIMPLE SUNDAY NIGHT SUPPER ~ PISTACHIO PENNE PASTA with ASPARAGUS, PEPPERS & CREAM / HERB-TOPPED BREAD

~ red trillium

_________________________________

PISTACHIO PENNE PASTA with ASPARAGUS, PEPPERS & CREAM

~ simple one plate spring supper

*

1 lb. penne pasta

4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 julienne sliced red onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1 lb. blanched diagonally cut asparagus

2 julienne sliced peppers (one yellow & one orange)

1/2 tsp. white pepper

1/3 cup white wine

1 1/2 cup half & half

coarse salt to taste

1/2 cup toasted pistachio nuts

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • While pasta is cooking, saute garlic and onion in olive oil until limp. Add asparagus and peppers and cook until tender crisp. Pour in wine, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes.
  • Pour in half & half, white pepper and salt. Simmer 2 minutes.
  • Drain pasta and combine with asparagus sauce. Add Parmesan cheese, toss, and serve in large pasta bowl, topped with toasted pistachios. Pass additional grated cheese. Serve with Herbed Topped Bread.

HERB-TOPPED BREAD

Combine 1 egg white & 1 Tbsp. water. Brush egg wash over French baguette. Secure herbs (e.g. dill, thyme, chives, rosemary, parsley, etc.) decoratively over bread and secure by gently brushing with additional egg wash. Bake in 350-degree oven for 5 minutes or until dry.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

DERBY DAY / CINCO de MAYO ~ FIESTA SHRIMP COCKTAIL & MUSTARD BOURBON BEEF TENDERLOIN


FIESTA SHRIMP COCKTAIL
~ Jalapeno peppers give it a kick
*
30 chilled cooked & deveined shrimp with tails
4 chopped and seeded plum tomatoes
1/2 coarsely chopped red onion
1 seeded jalapeno pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. freshly cracked pepper
pinch coarse salt
1 large diced ripe avocado
lime slices for garnish
Process tomato, onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, cayenne, salt & cracked pepper in food processor; coarsely chop. Blend in avocado. Either spoon into 6 individual cocktail glasses or one large glass bowl. Arrange chilled shrimp around edge of glass. (six servings)
__________________
MUSTARD BOURBON BEEF TENDERLOIN
~ perfect for Derby Day
*
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Bourbon
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 bunch minced green onions
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
freshly cracked pepper
1 (4 1/2 - 5 lb) trimmed beef tenderloin
or fillets for grilling
  • Combine above ingredients, reserving 1/2 of chopped green onions for garnish. Sprinkle tenderloin with cracked pepper and marinate several hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
  • Let set at room temperature. Remove from marinade and place in roasting pan. Bake at 500-degrees for 30-35 minutes or until thickest portion of tenderloin registers 145-degrees (medium rare) or grill fillets over hot coals until desired doneness. Loosely cover tenderloin and let stand 15 minutes before serving.
  • Bring marinade to boil and simmer 5 minutes. Serve sauce over sliced tenderloin and sprinkle with additional chopped green onions.

Friday, May 04, 2007

FRIDAY NIGHT FISH FEAST ~ BOURBON SALMON & REMBRANDT PEPPERS

MORE 'TULIPMANIA' INFO (never enough) ...

Read more about 'Time Traveling Tulips' ~

~ Rembrandt tulip
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BOURBON SALMON
~ Guests proclaiming they don't like salmon, love this! Give it a try ...
(great for a buffet brunch or dinner ... Kentucky Derby, perhaps?)
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For each 1 1/2 lb. of salmon fillets (skin or skinless)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. Bourbon
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. chopped green onions
additional green onions
  • Combine brown sugar, bourbon, soy sauce, olive oil and chopped green onions. Pour over rinsed and patted dry salmon fillet. Marinate several hours.
  • Remove salmon and reserve marinade. Grill salmon over hot coals until opaque or until oil breaks through surface ( 9-15 minutes depending on thickness and outdoor temperature).
  • While salmon is cooking, bring marinade to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes (sauce should be thick and coat spoon). Add reserved green onions to sauce or pour sauce over salmon and garnish with green onions. Delicious surrounded with tri-colored julienne sliced peppers (red, orange & yellow) sauteed in a touch of extra-virgin olive oil seasoned with a pinch of coarse salt & freshly cracked pepper.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

KENTUCKY DERBY BOURBON CHOCOLATE TORTE with BOURBON CREAM SAUCE & CANDIED VIOLETS


~ Sweet violets
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KENTUCKY DERBY BOURBON CHOCOLATE TORTE
~ adapted treasured 10 year old recipe clipped from Southern Living
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12 (1-oz) chopped semisweet chocolate squares
1 (16-oz) finely ground package pecan shortbread cookies
1 1/2 cups soft unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 large organic eggs
1/3 cup bourbon
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
Bourbon Cream Sauce
Candied Violets
  • Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease 9-inch springform pan and line with greased parchment paper.
  • Place ground cookies in large bowl.
  • Microwave chocolate pieces at MEDIUM (50% power) in glass bowl for 2 minutes or until melted, stirring after 1 minute.
  • Process butter, sugar, and eggs in food processor until smooth, stopping once to scrape down sides. Add bourbon and chocolate; process until blended. Fold into ground cookies. Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 1 hour. (Torte will appear cracked and dry but won't test done.) Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Cover and chill overnight or for at least 8 hours. Remove from pan and sprinkle with powdered sugar and cover with sprinkled Candied Violets. Surround the cake with red rose buds. Slice and serve with Bourbon Cream Sauce on the side.
Bourbon Cream Sauce
2 large beaten organic eggs
3/4 cup half & half
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. bourbon
Cook eggs, half & half, and sugar in saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly for 5 minutes or until candy thermometer registers 160-degrees and mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon.
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CANDIED VIOLETS
~ Takes a little patience but worth the effort. Try also with pansies, rose petals, apple blossoms, scented geraniums, Johnny-jump ups, borage, etc.
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Rinsed and dried UNSPRAYED flower blossoms, separated from stem
1 extra-large room temperature egg white
few drop of water or vodka (helps to dry faster)
1 cup superfine sugar
(if you can't find superfine, process regular sugar in blender or food processor
for a minute or two)
small paint brush
  • Combine egg white with water in small bowl. Whisk lightly until white shows a few bubbles.
  • Place sugar in shallow dish.
  • Hold flower petal in one hand, dip paint brush into egg white with the other and gently paint the flower on both sides (don't overdo). Sprinkle with sugar on both sides. Place flower on waxed paper to dry until completely free of moisture, flipping over occasionally. This usually takes 12-36 hours depending on humidity. (Can place in 150-degree with oven with door ajar for a few hours.)
Note: Dried properly, flowers will keep for several months.