Roasted Asparagus & Prosciutto with Hollandaise

Let’s just see: asparagus – cooked my favorite way – roasted. Proscuiutto, I just don’t even know where to start with that and let’s just gild the damn lily with hollandaise. Hello spring.

And today was a beautiful spring day. Windows open, birds doing their chirpy bird thing. Beautiful light on the crepe myrtles and river birches in the front yard. Yep – just a perfect day. And then I made this – just bonus points.
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1 pound fresh asparagus, pencil thin, but not thinner
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 large slices prosciutto

Hollandaise Sauce:
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice – half a lemon or more if you like, yes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
big pinch of cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Break the asparagus when it breaks naturally to get rid of the tough ends. Place on a  single layer on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with  salt and freshly grated black pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, until the stalks are just tender and yummy. Meanwhile, place the prosciutto in a single layer on another sheet pan and roast in the same oven for 5 minutes.

Arrange the asparagus on 3 plates. Place 2 slices of prosciutto on top of each pile, drizzle with hollandaise and serve.

Hollandaise:
Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in the jar of a blender and process on low for 15 seconds. Melt the butter in a small saucepan* until it is sizzling hot. Remove the small clear insert in the top of the blender. With the blender on low, slowly add the hot butter to the egg and lemon mixture and blend for 30 seconds, until the sauce is very thick. Use immediately.

Notes: Will go back to my America’s Test Kitchen Hollandaise. Otherwise, this is pretty perfect if you like asparagus. This hollandaise is easy, but not as thick as I like. I kind of like my hollandaise on the gloppy side. Is gloppy even a word??

Beautiful spring dish – will do this again when the asparagus is calling me. Which it does –  quite often.

*Am finally going to do it – buy a little pot just to melt butter in. Butter in the microwave is just so damn temperamental. It gets on my nerves, wastes butter and makes a big mess of the microwave. It is the little things in the kitchen than can just make one mad.

Source: modified from Ina Garten

Banana Nut Bread

I just cannot stand bananas. It is the texture I think, but, let’s just say, ugh. But here I am making banana nut bread from my mom’s recipe again. Just like so many years before.

I miss that I can’t make it for my dad anymore. But this, to me, more that just about anything else, is Christmas.

It would not be Christmas without toasted (under the broiler) banana nut bread slathered in too much butter for Christmas Day breakfast/brunch. Sausage balls are the close second.

D&D_2576This keeps well. And if you make a loaf and split it and put half wrapped in two layers of heavy duty foil in the freezer you can pull it out in March and it is still amazing.  That is what I did for my dad – half a loaf to eat now and the other have to save for a couple of months. You can make this anytime of year, really, but – it is just Christmas. And my family’s tradition.

8 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
3 1/12 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans (I upped this – my mom only used 1 cup)

Grease and line a 9 x 5″ loaf pan with parchment paper and spray again with baking spray.  Sift the flour with the baking powder, salt and baking soda – typically, I do this on a piece of waxed paper. In the stand mixer, blend the butter and sugar together. Then add the eggs, one at a time until blended. Add the mashed bananas and blend until combined. Mix in dry ingredients. Add pecans and mix well.

Turn into loaf pan and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and increase temp to 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

21 December 2017 – post procedure – funny, that – that is a story for a whole different day.(said in the voice of River Song from Dr. Who – the Matt Smith version). Dear lord, I am a dork of the nth degree. And obviously, the drugs are still having an impact of sorts.

300 degrees 1 hour – turn 1/2 way through
345 degrees 15 minutes – turn
20 minutes more – check with long wooden skewer – damnation – perfect.
9 x 5 inch Williams Sonoma gold-ish large loaf pan

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Work Hack – good for breakfast or lunch as long as you have Kerry Gold butter.

Hash Brown Casserole

I love hash brown casserole but so many recipes use cream of something soup – ugh. I just can’t stand the idea of doing that. It is just so … yuck.  I thought that for our New Year’s Day brunch, I would add this to my mom-in-law’s tradition of New Year good luck food. You know – from the south it is collards, black-eyed peas and from the north it is sauerkraut and sausage oh, and German potato salad. Hell of a New Years Day, especially when some beer is involved. And beer is always involved.

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2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt/pepper

30-32 ounces frozen shredded hash browns – thawed
8 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
8 ounces sour cream
medium yellow onion, grated
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided (1 1/2 & 1/2)
1 teaspoon salt, might need a bit more but I prefer to add when serving
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Whisk in flour and let cook for a minute or so. Slowly stir in chicken broth, then milk. Stir until it begins to thicken. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. This is your roux.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together thawed hash browns and melted butter.

Stir in the roux, sour cream, onion, and 1 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese (or more if you’d like – and yes, I would).

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

Source: centercutcook.com

We were super pleased with this. It was really good – almost Cracker Barrel good. Think it might need a little more onions to get there, but that is totally do-able.

When it is just me and  the MotH, I’ll do a half recipe and keep the rest of the hash browns in the freezer. Love flexible recipes.

Sausage Balls – Cook’s Country

There are just some things I MUST have for Christmas and probably the two most important things for Christmas morning are toasted banana nut bread and sausage balls. My mom always made them both. For the sausage balls she used, as most people did at the time, Bisquick, but since finding this Cook’s Country recipe that is just not necessary. I never used it for anything but this recipe, so to not have to purchase it and make do with things I already have on hand – well, it just makes so much more sense to me.

So here’s to my mom and to Christmas morning. D&D_2573

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ozs bulk hot breakfast sausage
4 ozs extra sharp cheddar, grated (1 cup)
3/4 cup whole buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper an cayenne until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal about 12 pulses. Add sausage and cheddar and pulse until combined, about 8 more times. Place mixture in a nice sized bowl and stir in buttermilk until just combined.

Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 1/4 inch ball (about 1 Tbs each). Space evenly on baking sheet and bake until golden brown between 20 – 22 minutes, rotating baking pan halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm. With grape jelly. Yum.

You can make these ahead and bake, cool, and then freeze and just reheat in the oven at 200 degree for 15 or so minutes. Just test one and see if it where you want it to be for reheating.

24 December 2014

24 December 2016 – for Christmas Day brunch/lunch

22 December 2017 for Christmas Day brunch/lunch – 375 degrees convection- 20 minutes – turn 1/2 way through – perfection! Need to double next time and freeze half (after baking). They keep well in the freezer for a month or so. Also, grape jelly needs to be involved.

These are also excellent on New Year’s Day morning too. Pretty much excellent anytime, but you get the point.

Hummus Wrap

I just can not bring myself to purchase hummus. No matter what – I think it because I am too cheap. It is just so damn easy to make hummus at home and no what any banana-pants cookbook or chef says – canned garbanzo beans are really just fine. Buy the Publix brand and just make your life so much simpler.

Again, this is a recipe from my vegetarian 1990s and I still make it all the time. The thing about this recipe is balance. I think even the banana-pants (read: fancy) chefs would agree to that.

Hummus ~
2 lemons, zested & juiced
2 cloves of garlic
1-15 ozs. can garbanzo beans
1 Tbs tahini or there abouts
kosher salt
water
olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor, whirl up the garlic cloves until minced. Rinse the garbanzo beans in a colander, getting rid of the canning liquid* and add to food processor. Pulse a couple of times. Add lemon zest and lemon juice and pulse again. Add tahini and adjust the thickness of the hummus with a little water if necessary. Then add a little bit of really good olive oil**, because it is just a lovely thing. Taste as you go along.

Then here is the important part: Put the hummus in the fridge. Yes, this takes advanced planning, but you need to make your hummus a day ahead at the least. Let the flavors mix and then let the hummus sit out and try again – cold hummus will tell you nothing. No cold food ever tastes at its best unless it is, maybe, ice cream, but I am not even sure about that. Does it need more lemon, more salt, some sumac, a little freshly ground black pepper? Or is it just spiffy the way it is?

The Rest of the Stuff ~
Sun-dried tomato tortilla, warmed
Red onion, sliced and sautéed in a little olive oil, soft, but keep them red, splash of vinegar – red wine, or course
Crimini mushrooms, sautéed until juices are dry and well salted and peppered
Spinach (from the salad bar at the Publix)#

So this turned into more of a project than I expected, but the outcome was just lovely. I made the hummus, onions, and, mushrooms ahead of time and they hung out in the fridge for a couple of days. Did keep munching on those onions though – they were really good. Kind of pickled onions that were just a little soft.

Take a warm tortilla and spread with homemade hummus down the middle. Add the red onions and mushrooms down the middle. Top with spinach. Then do your best to roll the tortilla. I am not good at this – at all, but it worked well enough that I will get better over time. I’m sure (nope).

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Next time: feta, sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil, but well-drained), artichoke hearts, roasted asparagus, hearts of palm. All these are just questions really. I could just go on and on. I really think these will make great lunch hacks, but I must pack all the items in small containers and keep them separate until it is time for lunch. Read: need new “tupperware” containers and lots of them. And I must toast or heat the tortilla  – that seems to be necessary.

November 2017 – Idea for the wrap from Ree Drummond.

*Know this is a controversial thing, but we’ll get there. I just do not like the taste. Sorry, vegan Aquafaba. Eeww.

**California Olive Ranch – Everyday. I can now get this at my Publix – very happy!

#When you only need a little greens for a sandwich or two, the salad bar can be a very good thing. If I am making a couple of spinach quiches – then I buy bags, but otherwise the salad bar is your friend.

2YA – Cheddar Pecan Crisps

Chorizo, Leek, Cheddar Muffins

I made some totally anemic muffins last week with zucchini and they were just so meh. I know it is zucchini season, but this was just sad. So I had to figure out some other savory muffin to make me forget that one.

So I was looking at a couple of savory muffin recipes and I just tried to cobble this together based on the best parts of things that I saw and I think this is going to be pretty amazing.D&D_2014

So I had originally thought to use bacon in this, but decided at the last minute to use chorizo which is really salty, in my opinion, so I did not add extra salt to the batter. I will use the bacon in a new cookie I’m coming up with – well, I hope so. It seems most of the cooked bacon I had in the fridge has disappeared. Hmm.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt, if needed*
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
7 Tbs unsalted butter, melted, divided 5/2
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar
1 leek, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 ozs chorizo, cooked and drained on paper towels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt if needed in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and 5 Tbs melted butter.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and incorporate wet ingredients, mix until just smooth. Stir in cheese and 1 cup of leek rings and chorizo.

Line muffin cups with foil liners and spray with baking spray. Fill 3/4 full, top with remaining leek rings and brush with remaining 2 Tbs butter. Bake 20-25 minutes and a toothpick comes out clean and tops just begin to brown. 

* taste chorizo first to decide if you need salt at all. I did not.

Wow, these were amazing and I am not just saying that to pat myself on the back. I really think the fresh chorizo made the difference and also tasting it once cooked to make sure the batter, in general, was not too salty.

This was hugely popular in the home kitchen. Both MotH and The Boy liked very much and the hardest test was me. I am a fan.

And I have made this recipe myself. Cool.

Zucchini Cheddar Muffins

I love savory muffins, the kind of thing you can eat for breakfast or brunch, slathered in Kerrygold butter, and still feel reasonably good about eating because, you know, hey! a vegetable is involved. I guess it just how you rationalize things, or at least it is how I do.

Now my problem becomes, what to do with this recipe, because I was just so amazingly underwhelmed by it. I hate it when that happens, but there it is. This was meh. I certainly did not take them in to the test kitchen and didn’t even take pictures because they just weren’t worth it.

That said, here is what they are, for lack of anything else, a warning not to go there.  

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup scant cup whole milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4.6 ounces grated zucchini, pressed mostly dry
3.5 ounces extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated,lg holes of box grater
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped

Preheat the oven to C 325 degrees and line muffin pan with foil liners.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and set aside.

Whisk the milk, egg, and oil together in a measuring cup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

Stir in the zucchini, cheddar cheese, scallions, and thyme with my best spatulas Get it Right. Love them.

Scoop the batter into the muffin tin with acookie scoop, about 3/4 full and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the tops are just golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool ten minutes in the pan then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature.

I have to say, I was not happy with this recipe. I’m not sure what I did wrong. But these had no color – they looked anemic. And to be honest, there wasn’t that much in the way of taste to make up for the blah looks either.

Source: Would just rather not say.