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.
D&D_1663
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

Lemon Love Cake

This is a recipe I never, um, ever, thought I might make. It uses two things that I just cannot abide by. Cake mix and pudding mix. Ugh. Dear lord the chemical smell just about sent me over the edge.

That said, I had seen Valerie Bertinelli make this kind of cake some many times, in so many iterations, that I just had to give it a go out of pure curiosity sake. So why not a lemon cake for Easter.

D&D_2787Easter to me is lemons or carrot cake and a few bits of chocolate, oh, and wait, some tiny jelly bird eggs – yes, I stock up for the whole year. You just don’t want to get into the details of what happens when you eat WAY too many jelly bird eggs.

Unsalted butter, for greasing
All-purpose flour, for dusting
One 16.5-ounce package lemon cake mix
1 lemon, zested and juiced
>One 32-ounce container part-skim ricotta
Two 8-ounce containers mascarpone
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
One 3.4-ounce package lemon instant pudding mix

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with baking spray.

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions, then add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and set aside.

Beat the ricotta, lemon zest and 4 ounces of the mascarpone with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined. Gently spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the cake batter.

Bake until the cake layer has risen to the top (the ricotta and cake layers switch places) and a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the remaining 12 ounces mascarpone with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the milk, beating until smooth. Add the pudding mix and beat until smooth. Let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.

Notes: I was a glutton for punishment and did all this by hand. It worked out, but I really need a nice hand mixer for when I don’t want to get the stand mixer into a mess.

Also, this recipe made me purchase things, I, um, never buy. 1) Cake Mix, 2) Jello Pudding Mix. But the idea seemed so good I could not quite help myself.

Source: Valerie Bertinelli

While I have to say this smelled a little chemically being mixed up – it certainly didn’t taste like that.

There were only 4 of us for Easter and this cake is huge, um, and dense. So I sent the vast majority of it to the Boy’s work. I understand that one of the bartenders hid it from pretty much everyone else. I think the best thing about this cake is it makes it own “cheesecake” layer on the bottom – hence – dense, but yummy. Might need to make one of these for the next pot luck at work – might be a new favorite.

I do love to take baked goods to the restaurants that we frequent. I also do make a special effort to get treats back to the kitchen. So many people forget about the back of the house.

Bacon Cheddar Soda Bread

I haven’t yet ventured into yeast bread, but I will make a quick bread, because I’m not scared of it. Yes, I am scared of yeast. So. Sad.

But here is a take in a recipe from one of my favorite recipe guys. Kevin – Closet Cooking.

D&D_28262 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded or diced
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons parsley (or chives), chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add cheese and stir to coat with flour. Coat bacon pieces with flour as well. Stir in herbs. Form the dough into the desired bread shape, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake until golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Simple as that, well, sort of, mostly.

Source: Kevin – Closet Cooking

Can’t help it – I love Kevin’s recipes. Simple and elegant and always changing.

Notes: Herbs from my potted garden – onion chives, garlic chives, and parsley. Woo hoo.

Apparently, I didn’t dice my cheddar small enough because it leaked out which was disappointing because I took great efforts to push the cheese and bacon to the inside if the dough.

Guess next time I’ll shred the cheese instead. I just thought in the interior of the bread if their was some nice bits of cheese – small chunks – it would be nice. Shredded just seems a little bit meh.

15 March 2018

Reuben Dip in a Bread Bowl

I am adjusting this recipe to fit with the things that work with the “Best Reuben Sandwich” from America’s Test Kitchen. Like making your own “dressing” which includes the mayo, sour cream, and chili sauce. Also using Boar’s Head sauerkraut and draining some sweet relish – though I will not go so far as to chop up my own sweet gerkins. Makes no sense. D&D_1861

I had to order the bread bowl from the Publix a day ahead of time, so consider that in your planning. I think a Rye boule would work equally well if you are so inclined.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chili sauce
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup drained sauerkraut -Boar’s Head
3 tablespoons sweet relish, drained very well
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup diced cooked corned beef – Boar’s Head from the deli @ the Publix
salt and pepper
1 large (1#) pumpernickel boule, top sliced off and center hollowed out

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, chili sauce, cream cheese, sauerkraut, and relish into a large mixing bowl and stir together until completely combined. Fold in cheeses and corned beef until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper and stir together. Scoop mixture and place into the hollowed bread bowl and place onto a baking sheet.

Place dip in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until dip is hot and baked through. Serve immediately with bread bowl by making slices of the bread into the dip – really good. Yep.

Source: Spoon Fork Bacon with some America’s Test Kitchen influence.

15 April 2017 – For Easter this year. Used my super amazing tomato knife* to slice through the bread to make bites and it worked really well.

* Victorinox 125th anniversary limited edition 4 1/2″ tomato knife. Sharpest damn thing ever – mind your fingers. So not kidding.

Apple Market Ham Salad

Okay, this is another thing that I have found that someone, Apple Market, does so much better than any version I have ever made. Yes, it is ham salad.

Let’s just get all the disclaimers out of the way. I will eat deli ham on occasion – see chicken, cheddar, apricot sandwich in which ham plays a key role. But a big ol’ Easter ham is not for me. The cut is too thick and I just do not care for it which is slightly interesting since I really like the vast majority of the rest of the pig (pork) parts a lot, no really, A Lot.

The MotH says this ham salad is too sweet and I am guessing that is the sweet relish, but I really really like it.

Apple Market is an interesting place. It is a local (yeah) small grocery store that has a great deli, excellent beer selection, a real butcher shop, sushi, really fresh dairy, and I think they employ most of the teen-aged kids from the area of East Pensacola Heights. They were one of the first grocery places to open after Ivan and after that you could tell that they had increased the generator back ups for the whole store.

Apple Market is a real treat. I do not get there as often as I would like, but since I have had the ham salad recently, I am motivated. May not look like much, but you should envy me. Yes, you should. D&D_1849

Okay? Does it look like cat food? Or is that just me? Sigh. I just stay up too late. I really should not say that, but the idea just struck me. No matter – it tastes amazing. And I am going back this weekend for more. Yep. Also to see if they have some really old chickens that will make a great chicken and rice.

Bill E’s Bacon – Fairhope, Alabama

You know I love my husband. The other day I asked him to go to the Apple Market which is not close to our house, but not terribly far either. It is just one of those place I do not get to often enough. I wanted some ham salad for Easter and it was great ham salad. [See post about letting others do things if they can do them better than you.]

Well, since the MotH had not been to Apple Market in donkey’s years, it was like a field trip for him and he just kept sending me photos at the office. One really struck a cord – Bill E’s bacon out of Fairhope, Alabama. It wasn’t ridiculously priced and, well, I am a sucker for local foods of all sorts. “Serenaded by Songwriters. Savored by Carnivores.” Interesting, if nothing else. Still not sure what it means. D&D_1831

Damn, I fried up a few strips to adorn the deviled eggs and the German potato salad for Easter brunch. That is totally gilding the lily.

Now, what do I do with the rest of it. Ah, we shall see. I love bacon-wrapped dates (or any dried fruit for that matter) stuffed with cheese, or even better some other piggy parts. Although that may be over kill.

This bacon is really smoky, so I think going with a dried fruit and some kind of neutral cheesy-ness that I think might be just amazing.   D&D_1833

Orzo Pasta Salad with Asparagus, Feta, Artichoke Hearts, and Sun-dried Tomatoes

D&D_1854So we had an abundance of feta cheese at the office – it is a long story, but I decided to make something of it. For Easter I thought a pasta salad would be good, but something light and fresh. So here is what I did. Another non-recipe recipe, but there it is.

8 ozs Orzo, al dente
1/2 pound asparagus, blanched until bright green (30 second – 1 minute) and the cooled, cut into 1 inch pieces
16 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and diced, or frozen
1/2 8.5 oz jarred sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut, drained*
2 Tbs minced chives
Feta crumbles from the office – not sure how much, but just make it look good with the color contrast

Vinaigrette –
juice and zest of one lemon
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup minced chives
salt/pepper to taste**

While the orzo is cooking, mix together vinaigrette ingredients in a decent sized serving bowl.  Once orzo is drained, add the hot pasta to the vinaigrette. Let the orzo soak up all that flavor. All that lemon.

Mix in all the other pasta salad ingredients and serve at room temperature.

What could be easier? I am not entirely sure especially since I had it all on hand – thanks work for the feta. Have to take the perks when you get them.

I feel proud of this – I mixed a lot of things together and it really worked.  Thank you Nigella for the vinaigrette recipe.

*I usually use dried tomatoes that I rehydrate in hot water, but this time oil-packed made more sense to me.

** I hate this expression. Do people not really know to taste things and season them with salt and pepper if necessary. Or maybe add more acid with some lemon or vinegar. Now I am being that food person that everyone says I am. Sigh.