Savory Early Springtime Sweet Potato Salad


If you're looking for savory ways to utilize your early crops of springtime herbs, here's an easy and delicious salad that goes to the table with sandwiches, pasta, seafood, or simply as a light and refreshing entrée. This recipe serves four, you can increase quantities for larger gatherings.

Ingredients

1/2 c. fresh basil
1/2 c. fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. tarragon vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
One large sweet potato, boiled until fork tender, but not soft and cut into 1"- 2" pieces
1 c. sugar snap peas
1/2 c. red grapes

Process

1. In a small food processor, blend the first six ingredients until they become incorporated.
2. Put potato wedges, peas and grapes into bowl, pour dressing all over and mix well.
3. Serve with your favorite sandwich, seafood or as a refreshing entrée.





HOP HOP HOP OVER TO POPOVERS!


Always super delicious, eggy popovers are easy to make and are sure to wow the crowd. Great with confectioners sugar (dusted or drizzled frosting), butter or just on their own, hot from the oven. 

We used our favorite packaged mix, from the famous Jordan Pond in Maine. Tip: Order more than one 'cause you'll want to make them more than once!

Here's the link. Jordan Pond Popover Mix


Gettin' Our Corned Beef On!

It's time for corned beef and cabbage ... now as St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, and really anytime of the year. It's always delicious and always a big hit ... day of, and day after! You'll need a big pot of water, lots of pickling spices, a quality cut of corned beef, a bunch of yellow or russet potatoes, an onion or two and time to let it simmer on the range. Here's how we do it:

Corned beef simmering in large pot of water with pickling spices (recipe below).


Add cabbage and potatoes ...

Cabbage, cored and quartered, ready to jump into the pool!


Ingredients

One 4-lb. corned beef brisket, thin cut (get the best you can find)
2-6 tbsp. pickling spices
4-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
One large onion, peeled and quartered
One medium head cabbage, cored and cut into 8 quarters

Process

1. Put the corned beef into a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 2 tbsp. pickling spices. Cover and bring to a boil.
2. Skim the gray residue that comes to the top of the pot. Cover. Simmer for 30 minutes. Skim residue. Add 1-2 tbsp. more pickling spices to make up for ones you skimmed away.
3. Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours on medium heat.
4. Add potatotes, onion, more water (boil it first) to cover corned beef. Adjust spices by adding more if needed. Simmer 30 minutes.
5. Add cabbage and simmer 30 more minutes.

Serve with Irish soda bread and a pint of Guinness! Top of the evening to you, mateys!bread!

DRY ROASTED RIBS 
Low-carb, almost no sugar


Our recipe for dry roasted ribs is a delicious alternative to slathering sugary, high-calorie, carb-laden sauce. Containing almost no sugar, all you need is an oven set at 300F for four hours, a little water, and the delicious ingredients that are listed below. We served these with our Poblano Cornbread (recipe follows). This rub works equally well with chicken, just turn up the heat to 375F after 3 hours and roast for another 30 minutes, until brown and crispy.

Preheat oven to 300F

Ingredients

2-4 lb. rack of ribs
1 T high-quality smoky paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 T cumin, or more if desired
1 T ground chili seasoning, or more if desired
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion salt
Generous grind 5 pepper medley (Williams Sonoma)
2 T dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt or fleur-de-sel (Williams Sonoma)
Water

Take ribs out of refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (about 20 minutes).

Mix spices well in bowl, rub generously into both sides of a rack of ribs. Place ribs on a sheet pan that has been fitted with alum foil to catch drippings and place ribs on a wire rack over pan with 1/4 c water beneath rack. Roast in oven 4 hours, turning every 20-30 minutes, replenishing with 1/4 c water as needed.

Here's what they will look like when they are ready. Carve and enjoy!




Good Luck Lentil Soup!



In many families, it is a tradition to have lentils, black-eyed peas or some sort of bean on New Year's Day ... to usher in the new year with luck and good fortune. Here's our version of a hearty lentil soup that fills the bill ... It's easy to make, fills the house with amazing aromas, and with the addition of kielbasa, makes a meal unto itself. Just add your favorite beverage and hot crusty Italian bread!


Ingredients
1 16 oz bag dried lentils
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil for sautéeing
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb. kielbasa, cut into 1/2" pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 lb. carrots, cut into 1/4" pieces
4 c beef broth (heated)
6 c water (heated)
1 bay leaf
French fleur de sel to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Process
1. In a large Dutch oven, sauté the kielbasa in 1-2 T of olive oil until browned.
2. Add chopped onion, garlic and celery. Sauté until wilted. Add more olive oil if needed.
3. Add carrots, mix with kielbasa, onion, garlic and celery and sauté one-two minutes more.
4. Add warmed beef broth, bay leaf, warmed water, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.
5. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to simmer for 1-1/2 hours.
6. Let cool slightly and serve with your favorite beverage and hot crusty Italian bread.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! May good fortune, good health and abundant joy be yours in the year to come!








Christmas Eve Paella (Also: New Year's Eve Paella)


Paella is one of our family's favorite dishes, and even though I've heard it's "easy," there are many ingredients and the assembly is tricky. Ron's dad had a great recipe that goes back three decades (which uses the oven), and I found a fantastic version by Janet Mandel, a Spanish cooking authority (which uses the stove top).  I put the two of them together, and also added my own touches.  I decided to use a large earthenware casserole dish and the oven method.  (Note: Assembly time: about an hour; cooking time, approximately another hour. Give yourself ample time, don't rush and enjoy the experience!)

Ingredients:
4 small chicken thighs, bone-in
4 small chicken breasts (or two breasts cut in half), bone-in
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
10 strands of saffron, steeped in boiling water
2 cups long grain white rice
8 cups chicken broth
1 green pepper, cut in 1/2" x 1/4" strips
1 ripe plum tomato, chopped
1 lb. Spanish chorizo (sausage)
18 raw, peeled and deveined shrimp
18 mussels
18 littleneck clams
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large Spanish onion, chopped (approximately 1 cup)
1/2 box frozen peas
4 oz. roasted red peppers

Note: Prepare your mis en table in advance; chop all tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic, clean all seafood, etc. so the cooking and assembly process goes smoothly.

Preparation
Cook the chicken: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper both sides of all pieces of chicken in oven-proof frying pan. Sauté in olive oil on both sides until deep golden brown.  Pop into oven for 20 minutes.

Cook the chorizo: Fry chorizo in non-stick pan. When cooked through, cut into small pieces. Drain pan of excess fat. Return chorizo to pan. Add onion, garlic, chopped tomato and green pepper, adding olive oil if necessary. When onion and garlic are translucent, remove from heat and set aside.

Steep the saffron: Bring one cup water to a boil. Remove from heat, add saffron. Set aside.

Assembly
When chicken is cooked, arrange around edges of large open casserole or paella pan.  Sprinkle with rice and add chicken stock, chopped tomato, chorizo/onion/pepper mixture, saffron with water, stir and cover tightly. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring half way through.

Remove from oven, uncover, stir. Add peas, roasted red peppers and shrimp. Cover, put back in oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, add mussels and clams. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, or until clams, shrimp and mussels are cooked. Shrimp should be firm and pink. Discard any mussels or clams that are not open.

Serve with salad and crisp white wine, such as Pinot Grigio (or Sangria, for you purists).

Paella also makes a fantastic party dish, as perfect for a crowd on New Year's Eve as on Christmas Eve.