Homemade Salsa

apple orchard

The apple orchards are in full bloom!

I came to the conclusion recently that after writing this blog for four-plus years, I really need a recipe index for everything I’ve written and cooked. Because after searching, I discovered I’ve never passed along my favorite recipe for salsa! Guacamole, artichoke dip, hummus yes, but never salsa. After recently making a big batch, I figured I would right that wrong!

I know I’ve told you about the now defunct Horn of the Moon, a vegetarian restaurant in Montpelier, Vermont. As a teenager, I would take my babysitting money to enjoy pizza night on Tuesdays and sometimes would stop in for a sweet and hot carob (note, not hot chocolate!) after school. A definitive ’70s Vermont restaurant, there were spider plants hanging (in macramé plant holders) in the large windows that overlooked the Winooski River. Questionable décor, but the food was delicious. I even spent a day cooking in the kitchen in the hopes of landing a summer job. I can’t remember if they decided it wasn’t a good fit or if I did, but no matter, owner Ginny Callan has a beloved cookbook that I frequently turn to when l am looking to cook Vermont produce: rhubarb, fiddleheads, asparagus, and zucchini.

This recipe fits winter or summer; winter use a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, summertime six medium-sized. I like it really spicy, so I’m liberal with the cayenne and sometimes I’ll add a jalapeno with the green pepper. A lot of chopping and measuring, but in the end you’ll know it was worth the effort. And it makes 3 cups, so there will be lots!

salsaSalsa
This recipe is from the Horn of the Moon Cookbook, by Ginny Callan, Harper & Row, 1987.

One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in tomato juice (In season, 6 finely diced medium-sized fresh garden tomatoes are a wonderful option!)
1 TBS. minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
2 tsp. sunflower oil (MVK’s Note: I use canola or another light oil)
2 tsp, lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cumin
½ cup very finely chopped onion (1 onion)
¾ cup very finely chopped green pepper (1 large pepper)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ to ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 or 2 fresh hot chili peppers, minced (optional)

Crush tomatoes; chip or run lightly through food processor. Combine with rest of ingredients. Chill until ready to serve. Makes 3 cups.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Food, Wine, and Books!

nh22Last weekend I attended the second “Food, Wine, and Books” fundraiser for the New Haven Community Library. Held at Lincoln Peak Vineyard, we had drank wine and ate samples of recipes cooked from a variety of books in support of this local library. The evening brought together my three favorite things: books, wine, and food!

nh21It was picture-perfect, the temperature was just right and no bugs yet. We sat on the porch with friends we hadn’t seen in months (we are all coming out of our winter hibernation!), and chatted about books and politics while sipping the delicious wine and food. A cucumber dip from the book, Life from Scratch (a food memoir that is on my radar, but I haven’t read yet), was so good, there was a pasta/salmon salad out of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I think my favorite was the chicken paté from my idol Ruth Reichl’s wonderful memoir, Tender at the Bone. (I’m always a sucker for paté.) It was a wonderful way to enjoy the springtime weather, support a good cause, and try out some new dishes!  

 

 

Yellow-Eyed Pea Salad with Springtime Herbs

canada geese

I spotted this family of Canada geese one evening on my walk. It looked like they were going to play a pickup game of soccer!

I realized after I swapped out my winter wardrobe for my springtime clothes that Old Man Winter was not kind to me this year. Given the bitter cold we had, I found myself exercising less and eating (and drinking) more. So given this latest turn of events, I’ve really turned to looking at my diet. I’m even joining two friends in a cleanse in a few weeks; no caffeine, alcohol, sugar, meat, dairy, and only whole wheat products; a vegan diet for two weeks. Which has led me to look at past recipes (I found some here and here) and to start creating delicious meals in preparation!

I’ve been wanting to make a nice bean salad after seeing the cover of the most recent Eating Well magazine. I had some dried yellow-eyed peas I bought earlier in the winter to make baked beans, but decided these would work just as well for a salad. Add my usual vinaigrette and some spring herbs with radishes for crunch, this was light and tasty. Even the Eater of the House liked it! I served it along an argula salad with toasted almonds and olive oil and lemon, but it would be equally delicious as a side dish with a nice piece of fish or lean chicken.

I’ve never seen these peas in a can like their black-eyed relatives; if you want to forgo the soaking and cooking, you can substitute a can of Great Northern or cannellini beans. And a spritz of lemon juice on top before serving adds just a little more brightness to the dish!

bean saladYellow-Eyed Pea Salad with Springtime Herbs
I find this salad is best the day you make it; the radishes become a little soggy when left overnight.  

3 cups yellow-eyed peas
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1 chopped TBS each: chives, basil, Italian flat parsley-or a combination of other herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice (optional)

1. In a large bowl, add the beans and radishes.

2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl. Add to the beans and toss. Add the herbs and top with a spritz of lemon juice, if desired.

(Photo courtesy Burlington Farmer's Market)

(Photo courtesy Burlington Farmer’s Market)

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Visit your local farmer’s market!

It is finally the season for farmer’s markets! By the middle of May my favorite market moves from inside to outside, with early greens and vegetables available for purchase.

This great article from cookinglight.com offers the best farmer’s market from each state, plus a recipe to try with fresh produce! While my local farmer’s market didn’t make the top of Vermont’s list, the recipe looks divine!

You can check out all the farmer’s markets and to see if yours made the list by clicking here.

Simple Caesar Dressing

 

 

Spring has finally sprung in Vermont!

Spring has finally sprung in Vermont!

I’m back! Did you miss your Wednesday dose of Vermont recipes? In the last two weeks I’ve traveled to two states with my best friends and let someone else do the cooking for a change. It was a treat to not have to think about what was for dinner and having to do clean-up duty, but I admit it is nice to be back home in the comfort of my kitchen. The first night back, guess what was on the menu? My comfort standby, roast chicken, my favorite melted green beans, and Caesar salad.

I admit I am a Caesar salad snob. If it is on a menu in a restaurant, I will almost always try it—and am almost always disappointed. For me, Caesar salad dressing needs to be a perfect combination of lemon, fish, and cheese and I find most are not that way. But now I’ve found a perfect recipe that I can make at home that fits my criteria!

Remember around the end of March when I gave you this recipe for Brussels sprouts that used a little bit of fish sauce? If you bought a bottle at that time and wonder what else you can make with it, don’t worry, you’ll be making this recipe once a week from now on! I admit it is a bit more tedious than I like in the kitchen with all the measuring, but in the end it is well worth it! I’ve used it as dressing for other salads and it’s just a good!

I’m not one for croutons on my salad, although I do love the crunch. I’ve been known to add some radishes, but just some fresh romaine lettuce, dressing, topped with a little bit more black pepper and grated cheese, and I’m in heaven!

caesar dressing
Simple Caesar Dressing

This recipe originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light.

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ teaspoons fish sauce
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 crushed garlic clove
1 large pasteurized egg yolk

1. Combine the ingredients in a mini food processor; pulse until combined.

2. With the processor running, slowly pour 3 Tablespoons canola oil, 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 2 Tablespoons water into egg yolk mixture. Process until just blended and smooth.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Inedible Food Jewelry!

pancakesAren’t these the cutest earrings ever? I friend pointed me in the direction of an Etsy site, where you can buy earrings and necklaces with all things food! Doughnuts, pizza, cookies, pies, pickles, olives, fruits and veggies, it’s all here! Even an everything bagel and a Chicago hot dog! It will take me forever to choose, they are all wonderful!

You can check all the offerings by clicking here.

Maple Syrup: It’s Not Just for Pancakes!

This is the sugarhouse of my friends, Don and Jodi Gale, Twin Maple Farm in Lincoln, Vermont. (Photo © Earle Ray)

My friends, Don and Jodi Gale’s sugarhouse, Twin Maple Sugarworks, in Lincoln, Vermont. These recipes were made with their syrup! (Photo © Earle Ray)

Springtime in Vermont means a few things: March Madness, mud season, and maple sugaring. “Cold nights and warm days” is the mantra for Vermont sugarmakers for the best conditions to get the sap running. We are fortunate to live in a place where we can go and just pick up some of this “liquid gold” nearby, but I am always looking for ways to use it aside from the usual pancakes, French toast, and warm biscuits and syrup (mmmmmm).

On a walk the other day, I pondered this thought and created two recipes in my head. And both were delicious! Rarely do I cook with carrots, other than sticking them in stirfrys and soups, but I was excited about some colorful carrots I had picked up from Trader Joe’s, so I thought about roasted carrots glazed with maple syrup. I already was thawing a pork tenderloin from the freezer and wondered how I was going to cook it. How about a Dijon-maple sauce to accompany it?

Both of these “recipes,” a word I use lightly since there is hardly any effort, were delicious with a hint of maple. I hear the sap might stop running this week after the string of really warm days we’ve had (finally!). So it will be another year before I will see the smoke in the sky with the promise of a new crop of syrup. But in the meantime, I have enough to keep us happy for the next 12 months!

carrotsMaple Glazed Carrots

5 carrots, peeled and sliced into long match sticks
1 small shallot, sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons maple syrup

In a baking dish, add the sliced carrots, shallot, and a tablespoon or so of the olive oil. Add some salt and pepper and toss to cover. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about an hour or until the carrots look brown. About 10 minutes before you’re ready to serve, add the maple syrup and stir to coat, turn off the oven, and have them sit there until you’re ready to serve.

pork2Tenderloin with Dijon-Maple Sauce
1 pork tenderloin, 1- 1.25 pounds
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon dried thyme

Roast the pork tenderloin in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until done. In a small bowl, mix the ingredients. Warm slowly in a saucepan and top the meat, or serve on the side.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Take Time to Smell the Roses (Or, Time For Someone Else to do the Cooking!)

As I do each April, I will be taking a couple of weeks off to enjoy my birthday month with some rest and relaxation with my girlfriends. I’ll be back and raring to go in May with all new springtime recipes! Let’s hope the weather will say SUMMER!

Roasted Salmon with Dill, Capers, and Horseradish

Buying fish is so hard these days; you’re bombarded with talk in the news of mercury, farm raised versus wild, frozen versus fresh, I usually leave the fish counter confused and not buying anything. But sometimes I get a craving for salmon. I love it and it’s good for you, lots of Omega 3s. So I’ll throw out all the talk and get a nice piece of fish for dinner.

If you are looking for something to make for a special springtime meal, this is it. ­And it’s perfect for a dinner party, because you do all the prep the day before—or in my case, the morning before. Dinner was going to be late, so I prepped the salmon while my coffee was brewing thus it had a solid ten-plus hours in the fridge. The homemade crème fraîche was easy to mix up the night before, add the dill in the morning, and refrigerate all day.

I think I’ve seen fresh horseradish in the produce section, but I decided to cheat and use jarred horseradish sauce that was minimally processed. And my piece of salmon was just over a pound and I made it for two, so I have sauce left over for another meal. I served this for Easter dinner with last week’s springtime salad and potato salad. Delicious!

salmon
Roasted Salmon with Dill, Capers, and Horseradish
This recipe originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

We couldn’t get over how delicious and silky-rich this salmon is, or how foolproof the recipe is. Don’t be thrown off by the total time it requires: Think of it instead as a great make-ahead dish, where all you have to do the night of the gathering is pop the fish in the oven for a short time. What you’re doing in step 1 is making homemade crème fraîche. It’s easy to do; it just takes some time. We love the creamy texture and luscious tang of homemade, but you can substitute purchased crème fraîche or full-fat sour cream. Look for a 3-pound side of salmon with even thickness. Avoid the thin tail end and buy two thicker (1 1/2-pound) pieces if you need to. The dill sauce will keep in the fridge for up to one week.

Yield: Serves 8 (serving size: about 4 ounces salmon and about 2 teaspoons sauce)

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 1/8 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/8 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup finely grated fresh horseradish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil 1 (3-pound) salmon fillet

1. Combine cream, buttermilk, and vinegar in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 8 hours. Stir in dill, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1 teaspoon salt, remaining 1 teaspoon pepper, horseradish, and next 4 ingredients (through oil) in a small bowl. Spread horseradish mixture evenly over salmon. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 450°.

4. Place fish, skin side down, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 13 minutes. Remove from oven.

5. Preheat broiler to high.

6. Broil fish 5 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Cut fish into 8 equal portions; top fish with dill sauce.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Speaking of Salmon…

salmon nytCookbook author and New York Times contributor, Melissa Clark, is one of my favorite food writers. Her two cookbooks, Cook This Now and In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite are fantastic if you’re ever in need of a new cookbook. Similar to Mark Bittman, she can make a simple dish seem elegant. I came across this video for Salmon with Anchovy Butter the other day. It looks so good! Another salmon recipe to try!  

Perfect for the Season: Asparagus and Spring Greens Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

My Peter Rabbit is waiting to go back in the green garden!

Peter Rabbit is waiting for spring so he can go back in the green garden!

Rabbit Rabbit everyone! We’re finally in APRIL! Last week I said a big goodbye to winter; this week I’m saying hello to spring! And what better way to do that than with asparagus?

I buy asparagus by the pound this time of year. Last year I believe I actually got the question before dinner, “Asparagus? Again?” I love just roasting it (check out my recipes from last April!), but this recipe just calls for blanching and adding to a salad. A new way to use it!

What’s not to like with this salad? I never use lemon zest in anything, but I just might start. The addition of that brought a certain brightness to the dressing that just said spring. And gorgonzola cheese is one of my favorite cheeses; my favorite salad is romaine salad, olive oil, gorgonzola cheese and salt and pepper. So easy but SO good!

This recipe serves eight, so it would be a perfect side dish for your Passover or Easter dinner if you’re cooking for a crowd, or you can make it as a side salad for a weeknight supper. I just placed everything in individual bowls and topped with the salad dressing. And had some dressing left over for lunch the next day!

spring salad

I don’t usually see white asparagus in the produce section, so I used all green. Just as tasty!

Asparagus and Spring Greens Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

This recipe first appeared in the March 2010 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

1 pound green and white asparagus, trimmed and cut into (2-inch) pieces
2 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, divided
1 (5-ounce) package mixed salad greens

1. Cook asparagus and 2 teaspoons salt in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse asparagus under cold water; drain.

2. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, shallots, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese.

3. Combine asparagus and greens in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

easterMVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Suggestions for Easter and Passover Dinner

It’s Wednesday, and if you’re like me and you still don’t know what you’re going to make for your Friday or Sunday dinner, here are some suggestions! These publications have lots of delicious recipes for your Easter and Passover dinners!

Cooking Light

New York Times Easter

New York Times Passover

Food Network

Martha Stewart

Rachael Ray

Bidding a Fond Farewell to Winter

Despite the temperature, we've had gorgeous sunrises this month.

Despite the temperature, we’ve had gorgeous sunrises this month. #nofilter

This past weekend, the first weekend of spring, I decided to say goodbye to the winter of 2015, that dark, cold, icy, snowy, did I say COLD, winter. In my kitchen, this means saying goodbye to some of my favorite root veggies: turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, and Brussels sprouts, and hello to spring asparagus, radishes, and peas. So I decided to make one last Brussels sprouts recipe before I closed the door on the season.

Now, I’ve purchased one bottle of fish sauce in my life and it’s still sitting in the refrigerator. Used in that rare Asian dish, it lasts forever so it just sits in the door of the fridge waiting for that next recipe. But when I spotted a page of fish sauce recipes in the April issue of Cooking Light, I knew I could kill two birds with one stone, bid adieu to winter and use up a little of the sauce!

It is definitely time to make a season switch; the sprouts I bought, normally bright green and round like a golf ball, were small and oval with just a tinge of green. This is a simple recipe, you measure everything and place into a bowl and just pan roast the sprouts. I added a bit more crushed red pepper, so on a blustery 14-degree day, it was a welcome warm side dish to roasted chicken, but I thought it could be equally tasty on a bed of rice or quinoa. (Vegetarians, you can still make this, just leave out the fish sauce, it will still be delicious!) So, goodbye winter! Hopefully Mother Nature will take a look at the calendar and realize we need to warm up!

brussels
Sweet and Savory Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts

This recipe originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 pound trimmed Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise

Combine water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and crushed red pepper in a small bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Let stand at least 20 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add Brussels sprouts to pan in a single layer, cut side down. Cook, without stirring, 5 minutes or until cut sides are evenly browned. Turn sprouts, and reduce heat to medium; cook 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Increase heat to medium-high. Add fish sauce mixture to pan, tossing to coat sprouts. Cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Mark Bittman in Berkeley          

berkeley

(Photo by Jim Wilson/New York Times)

One of my favorite food writers hands down is Mark Bittman. He can take three ingredients and make a dish fit for a king; his creativity in the kitchen is simple yet elegant. This lifelong New Yorker recently moved to Berkeley (which I take is a temporary move) and he writes elegantly about the winters farmer’s market in California’s Bay Area. Sigh. It honestly does sound like heaven to those of us in the snowbound states. You can read about his adventures by clicking here.