Tag Archives: Comfort food

Salmon Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

A cold and rainy day in Wisconsin greats me as I ready myself for the day.  Ice and wind is a good possibility on my way to work.  So I have to take care on my drive into work.  A cautious morning drive is on my plate.
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I have been wondering what to make for dinner tonight.  Yesterday was poached salmon with sesame ginger sauce and curried quinoa.  So today I plan on taking the leftovers and making salmon cakes.  Great on this cold day.

Salmon Cakes
1 lb salmon cooked and flaked
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 small onion chopped
1 small red bell pepper chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 eggs
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons yogurt
2 tablespoons flour plus extra flour if needed to firm up the salmon cakes do they don’t fall apart.

Garnish
2 sliced avocados
Pico sauce

Sauce
2 cups yogurt
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
2 roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 garlic clove

I make the sauce first. Place the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

In a food processor mix the quinoa, bread crumbs, eggs, sriracha sauce, yogurt and flour.  Put mixture in  bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients in add more yogurt to moisten if necessary.  Chill mixture for 30 minutes.  Form into patties and set aside.

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Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan.  Place cakes in pan and cook on each side for about 10 minutes until brown and patties are cooked through.

Serve atop sliced avocado and top with pico sauce.  Serve roasted red pepper sauce on the side.

Enjoy will enjoy the cold day more knowing I will be coming home to the salmon cakes and roasted red pepper sauce.

Baby It’s Cold Outside.

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Brrrr….I’m chilled to the bone.  As January comes to an end, winter lets us know that it is not over yet.  The weatherman is using terms like wind chill, arctic blast, polar vortex.  Each term used with a dramatic fervor  to scare the bejesus out of you.  Well stop it!  I know that it’s as cold as a witch’s tit out there.  I don’t need your melodramatics to help me to remember to put my hat on before I venture outside.  This is Wisconsin and yes it does get this cold in the winter.

So, with that off of my chest.  I could see my breath as I spoke.  It is time to cook up a heaping pot of veggie chili.  As I dig through my pantry to find all the fixings, here is what you’ll need if you too want to cook up some chili to heat up your insides.

28 oz can of chopped tomatoes
28 oz can of stewed tomatoes
1 quart of tomato juice
1 tbsp Better than Bullion soup base
1 onion chopped roughly
2 pablano chili peppers roasted chopped roughly
2 anaheim peppers roasted chopped roughly
2 hungarian peppers roasted chopped roughly
1-2 jalapeno pepper chopped fine
2 red bell peppers roasted chopped roughly
2 cups pumpkin that is cubed and cooked in vegetable broth until soft
Two 16 oz cans of black beans
One 16 oz can of pinto beans
6 garlic gloves chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp fennel seed
3 tbsp chili powder
1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Vindaloo Seasoning
1 cup bulgar wheat
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Empty the canned tomato products in a deep stock pot.  Add the soup base and chopped garlic and all the seasonings.  put on medium heat until it starts to boil and then begin to simmer.  In a pan saute the onion and jalapeno peppers in olive oil until the onion softens.  Add them to the stock along with the roasted peppers.  Add the pumpkin and beans.  Simmer for about 2 – 3 hours.  Added the cilantro and bulgar wheat.  Simmer for 1 more hour.  If the chili is too thick stir in more tomato juice or water.

I like to serve it with sour cream and crusty bread but it is also great without the dairy as a vegan dish.

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A great way to beat the cold weather.

This pot will serve 12 healthy appetites.

You can freeze it for the next day the wind chill drops to 40 below.

Cheers.

Frost on the pumpkin. It’s Soup Season.

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I turned on the heat this morning.

I woke up to Jack Frost waiting outside my front door.  He was dusting the grass and fallen leaves in frosty jewels in the dusk of early morning.  An iridescence met my eyes as an early morning traveler’s headlights danced across the minute ice crystals blanketing each bland of grass.  I could just make out Jack Frost’s shape as he leapt over the grass and scurried under the new fallen leaves.  He seemed to be searching for something.  Perhaps a forgotten nut that the squirrels had left behind or a hidden gate that opened to a autumn pumpkin patch so he could paint their skin in frosty white splendor.  It was a cold morning.  Time for a hot cup of coffee to warm my stomach and start my day.

As soon as I finished the coffee I hopped on my bike.  Off to the farmer’s market to get some fresh vegetables.  The thought of soup simmering on the stove kept me warm as I rode through the cold streets.  A leek, some mushrooms and sweet carrots would be a nice start to the soup.  After chatting with one of the farmers at the market I purchased a leek, some red carrots,  some potatoes, a watermelon radish and some delicious looking red raspberries.  I hopped back on my bike and soon I was at home brushing away the cold of the morning.

The potatoes will be put into short storage toe be used in the coming weeks.  Potatoes, onions, beets, carrots, etc. cane be stored long term.  Just follow the link to a detailed winter produce storage site.

The Radish is a treat for me.  I slice it up and pickle it.  Yummy on sandwiches and great on salads or just to munch on.

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Pickled Watermelon Radishes

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup watermelon radish sliced
2 tbsp sugar

Heat the fist four ingredients together until the sugar dissolves completely.  Refrigerate until cool.  Place the sliced radishes in a bowl and pour the two tbsp sugar over them.  Gently massage the radishes.  That’s right.  They have had a long hard season in the garden.  Actually, the sugar will pull some of the excess water from the radishes.  Drain the excess water from the bowl and rinse the radishes.  Put into a jar and fill with the cooled vinegar sugar mixture.  Cover and store in your refrigerator.

The leek will be for the soup.  I like soup on a cold day and this recipe is one of my favorites.  There are two versions to this soup.  The first is made with turkey the second is made without.  Either is delicious.

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Wild Rice with Leek and Mushroom Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 leek sliced
2 carrots sliced thin
2 cups portabella mushrooms sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
small bunch of sage chopped (choose the amount you would like for flavor)
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups of water
3 cups of vegetable broth (turkey broth if you are making the non-vegan version)
1/2 dry vermouth
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup wild rice
3 cups water
1/2 cup rolled oats

(for non-vegan version 1 cup  chopped turkey and substitute three cups evaporated milk for the 3 cups water and 1/2 cup rolled oats)

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Saute the leeks, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic until the leeks are tender.  Add dry vermouth, sage and salt.  Cook for two more minutes.  Add water, broth, brown rice and wild rice.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 90 minutes or until rice is tender.  Add three cups of water and 1/2 cup of rolled oats to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add to soup and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add more salt if needed.  I like to serve this with crusty bread to dip into the soup.  Also great over roasted potatoes.

Raspberries.  What am I to do with the raspberries.  They are going to make a wonderful dessert.

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Raspberries and biscuits.

In a large bowl, combine 1.5 cups  flour, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1.5 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cut in 12 tbsp butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp cream and stir until the dough is evenly moistened. With a large spoon, scoop the dough into 8 loose mounds and place on a wax paper–lined baking sheet.

In a large, deep, ovenproof saute pan, combine 3/4 cup of granulated sugar with 2 cups raspberries, 1 tbsp lemon zest, a cinnamon stick and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Arrange the dough on top of the berry sauce.  Cover and simmer over very low heat until the biscuits are springy and cooked through, 15 minutes.  Sprinkle the biscuits with granulated sugar, cinnamon and broil for 5 minutes until the biscuits are lightly browned.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  The biscuits are soft and compliment the berries.

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WHEN THE FROST IS ON THE PUMPKIN

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kind o’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here —
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’, and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock —
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries — kind o’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The straw-stack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below — the clover over-head, —
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ‘s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! …
I don’t know how to tell it — but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me —
I’d want to ‘commodate ’em — all the whole-indurin’ flock —
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

By James Whitcomb Riley

Cheers

My Life Would Not Be Complete Without Vegetarian Lasagna

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It is a cool fall morning In Wisconsin.  Patches of frost melt into dew on fallen orange maple leaves.  Sunlight captured by the droplets warms the leaf skin in an attempt to reanimate the once lustrous green of the leaf.  The reflection off the many droplets cause the leaves to shimmer in the morning sun.   On this morning I take solace in my warm home.  I am nursing a sore foot.  Plantar Fasciitis was the diagnosis.  I am staying at home for the week and doing the stretches.  But one cannot just sit on the couch all day and stretch ones heal.  So off to the kitchen to whip up some goodies for the week.

I do have an update on my health status.  I am maintaining this diet and the numbers are showing progress.  My Cholesterol is at 168.  My glucose levels have fallen from 110 to 98.  I have dropped 20 lbs.  After two months I feel this is good progress.  I plan to maintain my diet.  I like the emphasis on eating good.  It is good for my body and good for my mental health too.  Yippie for me.

Enough talk about me.  Let’s start cooking.

Yesterday I roasted some peppers.  The peppers are brilliant red and ripe; they were the last of the peppers harvested.  I roasted many varieties.  Anaheim, Cherry, Bell, Cubanelle, Habanero, Jalepeno, Serano, Banana, Hungarian.  The roasted peppers have the smokey sweet flavor that I love and use the roasted peppers in a variety recipes.  They are best on the grill but can be roasted in the oven also if you wish.  Cut the peppers in half and deseed them.  Drizzle with olive oil and place on a hot grill.  Cook until the skins are blackened.  Place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let cool.  Later the skins will peel off easily.  I save them for cooking in later recipes.

I was thinking of making Spanakopita today but changed my mind as I had a craving for some pasta.  So I am combining the best of both.

Spinach Lasagna

One box lasagna noodles
1 large bag of spinach
8 cloves garlic minced
2 large onions chopped
1 lb mushrooms sliced
1 eggplant skinned and cubed
1 cup red wine
2 cups chopped tomatoes no seeds or skins
6 cups of homemade marinara sauce (you can use jars of sauce if you prefer)
I can black olives
4 tablespoons pesto
roasted peppers chopped
8 oz feta cheese
12 oz mozzarella cheese grated

In a large sauce pan pour in marinara, chipped roasted peppers and tomatoes.  Add two cloves chopped garlic and 1/2 cup of red wine.  Let simmer.

In a saute pan drizzle with olive oil and saute the onions until they start to become translucent,  Add mushrooms eggplant, 1/2 cup red wine and black olives.  Cook until tender.  Set aside.

In a food processor process spinach, six cloves of garlic, pesto and feta cheese.

Cook noodles for the lasagna 4 to 6 at a time and layer the lasagna.  Oil the pan, lay noddles on the bottom of the pan and ladle over some red sauce,  ad another layer of noodles,  Spread the spinach mixture, add another layer of noodles, ladle red sauce over the noodles.  Spread mushroom mixture over the noodles.  Sprinkle 4 oz of mozzarella over the mushrooms.  And two more layers of noodles with red sauce in between the layers.  Top with red sauce and mozzarella. Top with red sauce.  Cook in a preheated oven 350F for one hour.  Top with red sauce and 8 oz mozzarella.  Put underneath the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and browning.  Let rest for 20 minutes before slicing.  I usually retain some extra sauce to pour over the lasagna.

There is a trick if you would like to save time.  Do not cook the noodles. Layer the lasagna with hard uncooked noodles and add extra red sauce between the layers.  Cook with foil over the top of the pan for one hour.  Remove the foil and add the 8 oz mozzarella cheese to the top of the lasagna and put underneath the broiler until it is bubbly and browning.  After I remove the foil I usually test the lasagna by inserting a knife into the center.  If the noodles are cooked it will insert easily.

I have also added Breaded and fried eggplant medallions to this recipe.  Be careful the breaded eggplant is addicting. I usually eat it before it I can get it into the oven.

Cheesecake, Cheesecake, and more cheesecake.

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As a former pastry chef I have a passion for pies, cakes, tortes, muffins….you get the picture.  Out of all the delectable treats that I have created I will always love cheesecake.  That creamy cake topped with fruits, nuts or chocolate is heaven.  The way the cheesecake melts in your mouth.  The combination of sweet dairy and fruit is intoxicating.  When I cut a cheesecake the smell fills the air and I am not satisfied until that sweet taste finds my tongue.  Of course I have been following a mostly vegan diet and cheesecake is the polar opposite of vegan.  Butter in the crust.  Cake made with cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and sugar. A far cry from vegan.  It is vegetarian and fits into the vegetarian diet.  And as long as you do not eat to excess I believe that you have not taken a drastic detour away from the healthy diet.

The basic cheesecake recipe is simple.  Eggs, Cream cheese sugar and sour cream.  Yet to get that creamy taste you have to use a couple of tricks.  Do not over mix the batter.  Add your eggs one at a time.  Start when the cream cheese is at room temperature.  Bake the cheesecake in a water bath.  Once the baking is done crack the oven open and allow it to cool for one hour in the oven.  If you follow these you will have a cheesecake that will be a delight for your dinner guests.  There is nothing better than the look on your guests face when they bite into a fork full of cheesecake and fresh strawberries. SO now that you know my secrets I am going to give you my two favorite recipes.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Recipe:

6 oz shortbread cookies

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp sugar 

Grind the cookies and melt butter. Add all in a bowl with the sugar and mix until moist. Pat in the bottom of a ten inch springform pan. Set aside.

4 eight oz packages cream cheese

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup sour cream

In a kitchen mixer cream the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add vanilla and one egg at a time until the mixture is smooth. Do not over mix.  Add the Sour cream and mix until incorporated. Pour into the springform pan on top of the crust. Smooth the top of the batter.  Wrap the outside of the pan in foil so that it is water proof.  Use a single sheet of aluminum foil.  Two pieces folded together will leak.  I speak from experience.  Submerge it in a water bath so that the water comes up one inch on the side of the springform pan.  Put in a preheated 325F oven for 1 hour.  After one hour shut off oven and crack open oven door. Let cool for one hour in the oven then refrigerate for 3 hours.

In a double boiler heat 3/4 lb to 1 lb white chocolate. Add a bit of milk to thin it.  The chocolate needs to be thin enough to pour over the strawberries, thick enough to set and thin enough to cut easily when served.  Cut the green top off 2 quarts of strawberries and place them on the top of the cheesecake cut end down.  Spoon the warmed white chocolate over the top. The finished cheesecake will look like red snow capped mountains.  Refrigerate overnight.  When serving cut with a sharp knife that has been heated in hot water.

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Recipe:

6 oz chocolate cookies

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp sugar 

Grind the cookies and melt butter. Add all in a bowl with the sugar and mix until moist. Pat in the bottom of a ten inch springform pan. Set aside.

4 eight oz packages cream cheese

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup heavy cream

shaved dark chocolate approximately 1 lb

Heat the heavy cream until it boils.  Pour over shaved chocolate and stir until it is smooth.  You can put into the microwave for 10 seconds on high to heat some more if it is still stiff.  The chocolate needs to be thin enough to pour over the raspberriess, thick enough to set and thin enough to cut easily when served.  Set aside.

In a kitchen mixer cream the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add vanilla and one egg at a time until the mixture is smooth. Do not over mix.  Add 3/4 cup of the melted dark chocolate and mix until incorporated. Pour into the springform pan on top of the crust. Smooth the top of the batter.  Wrap the outside of the pan in foil so that it is water proof.  Use a single sheet of aluminum foil.  Two pieces folded together will leak.  I speak from experience.  Submerge it in a water bath so that the water comes up one inch on the side of the springform pan.  Put in a preheated 325F oven for 1 hour.  After one hour shut off oven and crack open oven door. Let cool for one hour in the oven then refrigerate for 3 hours.

Rinse 1 pint of raspberries and pat them dry.  Place evenly in one layer on top of the cheesecake. Rewarm the dark chocolate mixture.  Spoon the warmed dark chocolate over the top. Refrigerate overnight.  When serving cut with a sharp knife that has been heated in hot water.

 

You now have two basic cheesecake recipes.  To make other cheesecake variations you can substitute various items for the sour cream/chocolate cream.  For Pumpkin Cheesecake substitute pumpkin for the sour cream and add pumpkin pie seasoning to the mix.  Put on a pecan crust.  For Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake substitute peanutbutter for the sour cream and put on a chocolate crumb crust with chocolate topping.  There are endless variations.  Just have fun and enjoy the recipes.