Garlic, I love you!

What are the benefits of garlic?

Garlic (Allium sativum), is used widely as a flavoring in cooking, but it has been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history; it has been taken to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.

Garlic belongs to the genus Allium and is closely related to the onion rakkyo (an onion found in Asia), scallion, chive, leek, and shallot. It has been used by humans for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt for both culinary purposes and its health and therapeutic benefits.

National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one, but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant. Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it’s China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year.

4. GARLIC’S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which turns garlic’s thiosulfate compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and bringing about a drop in blood pressure. . Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system.

6. GARLIC CONTAINS VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU.

Garlic bulbs are filled with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC’S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid builder with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document, the Ebers Papyrus counts 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves. ,

9. GARLIC’S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire, a beast repelled by garlic to the public with his 1897 novel Dracula. In the book, he uses it as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent.

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush it to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply slice cloves in half and apply them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit, as long as you can stand and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

Here is a great article by Food52 about buying and using garlic:

ARROWFOOD

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic

BY KATE ERBLAND APRIL 19, 2018

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National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone—or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one—but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant (okay, “bulbous plant” might not sound super appetizing, but it’s certainly accurate). Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce “scapes,” green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They also make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it’s China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown. Per a 2012 study, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.

4. GARLIC’S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which then turns garlic’s thio-sulfinite compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and thus bringing about a drop in blood pressure. Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system (and it’s tasty).

6. GARLIC CONTAINS TONS OF VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU, TOO.

The bulbs are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC’S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid-builders with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document—the Ebers Papyrus—counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves.

9. GARLIC’S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire—a beast repelled by garlic—to the public with his 1897 novel DraculaIn the book, Van Helsing uses garlic as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent (think of the blood-sucking).

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply by slicing cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit—as long as you can stand!—and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

This is a great article from Food52 on how to buy and use garlic.

Garlic

There are many, many varieties of garlic, but they can all be classified as either hardneck or softneck garlic. Softneck garlic truly has a soft neck, meaning the central stalk is pliable enough to be manipulated — this is the type used to make garlic braids. Softneck garlic tends to be milder in flavor and to have more cloves per bulb (up to 20!); hardneck garlic, on the other hand, has fewer cloves but they’re larger (3, last photo) and easier to peel. 

When you buy garlic, as is true when you buy onions, you’re looking for hard, dry bulbs; like onions, they’ve been cured, which means they will last longer and store well. After being cured, the roots and stalk (1, photo below) are trimmed and the outermost layer of paper wrappers is removed. The garlic is ready to hang out in a cool, dry place in your home for months. Both types of garlic store well once cured, but softneck garlic will keep for a much longer time than hardneck, which is why you’ll usually find softneck garlic at grocery stores.

If stored long enough, you’ll eventually see little green sprouts in your garlic cloves. We generally don’t bother with removing them, but if you prefer to, just flick them out with the tip of a sharp knife. ( Iread once that they are a bit bitter, so I remove them)

Garlic

For those who think garlic is garlic, it isn’t all the same. Different varieties carry unique flavor profiles, but you’ll likely have to head to your local farmers market to try varieties like Inchelium Red, Kettle River Giant, Purple Glazer, and Sicilian Silver. Once you leave the supermarket, you’ll see more color variation, like purple streaks (2) in both the bulb wrappers and the cloves.

Once you get to know your local garlic farmer, you’ll have an easier time getting your hands on garlic at other stages of growth early season treats like green garlic and garlic scapes(the latter of which are only produced by hardneck garlic) and wet or fresh garlic (which is fully mature garlic that is eaten immediately after it has been harvested, without going through the curing process).

Garlic Cloves

If you’ve ever come across black garlic, that’s not a specific variety, it’s garlic that’s gone through fermentation and the flavor could be described as having a lot going on: “First there’s a hit of sweetness, followed by a faint hint of smoke, then a pungency that lingers long after the sweetness is gone.” If you’ve tried it and you weren’t immediately converted to its charms, cook with it, as the flavor changes with heat. 

For some, garlic cloves can be as aggravating as shallots. as recipes will call for a set number of cloves, but when heads of garlic can have such a wide range of clove sizes, there’s room for interpretation. We assume a mediumish-sized clove of garlic is about a half teaspoon once minced. 

Garlic

It’s hard to find a savory dish that we don’t like to use garlic in, but if garlic isn’t the first thing you reach for when you start cooking, we’ve got 5 ideas to get you started using more of it:

  • Pair garlic with your favorite protein: Try it with any protein
  • Introduce garlic to your favorite vegetable.
  • Make garlic bread or try grilling it.
  • Roast garlic to bring out its softer side.
  • Enjoy garlic in soup.
Garlic, I love you!

Seared Scallops over Risotto

An easy and fast dinner for a weeknight. I prepared the chopped onion and garlic in the morning, so I just had to add it to the Risotto as I was cooking it. I took some frozen peas out of the freezer and had some fresh broccoli in the refrigerator left over from Farmers Market, so cut it up and got it ready.

Risotto is an easy dish, but you do have to watch and stir and watch and add more liquid. I took a bottle of wine out of the refrigerator and put it on the counter to bring to room temperature. Most people tell you to add everything “hot” to the pan, once you add the rice and EVOO, but I add at room temperature, mostly because I am a little lazy. I almost always have frozen chicken stock, so throw it in the microwave to warm, while I am cutting up veggies.

Garlic Parmesan Risotto

Risotto in 17-25 minutes?! I’m in! Garlic Parmesan Risotto may be the star of the show we call “dinner” in this easy side – it’s sure to please the whole family!CourseSide DishCuisineItalianPrep Time5 minutesCook Time20 minutesTotal Time25 minutesServings4Calories367kcalAuthorKylee Cooks

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion diced finely
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tb s EVOO
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  •  dry white wine ( I use whatever is left over in the refrigerator, so maybe half a bottle). Cheap wine gives you cheap flavor.
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving ( I only use Reggiano Parmigiano, so the flavor is the best it can be)
  • 3 Tbs freshly chopped parsley ( I pick it from my garden, and be sure to remove all the stems, as they are bitter)
  • Peas and Broccoli or what ever veggie you want to add.

Instructions

  • Add butter and oil to a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onions and cook until just tender, then add the garlic. Cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add the rice and toss to coat, (making sure oil gets onto every grain of rice if you can). Remember I did mine ahead of time.
  • Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed.
  • Add 1 ladle of stock and stir until it absorbs.
  • Repeat this until you have used almost all of the stock -(It should take about 17-25 minutes). Taste to make sure it is the texture you want to eat it. Not mushy, but not too al dente.
  • After adding the last ladle of stock, add the parsley, and promptly add the cheese.
  • Let it absorb until it is creamy and thick, but not soupy.
  • Serve, adding extra parmesan if desired.

Seared Scallops

  • Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  • In the meantime, pat the scallops very dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper, to season.
  • When the pan is hot, add EVOO, then drop in your scallops, giving them enough room in between so they don’t steam each other. The scallops should make a sizzling noise when you put them in the pan.
  • Cook the scallops for 2 minutes, or untill you can see a little brown on the edges, making sure not to move them or touch them at all.
  • Flip the scallops over with a pair of tongs, and add the butter to the pan. Let the scallops cook for 1 more minute, basting the scallops with the butter.
  • Remove the scallops from the pan and serve over Risotto!

We served this with a Bennett Lane Pinot and loved the dinner. My granddaughter, age ten had joined us for dinner and ate two huge helpings, more that my male friend. She is quite slight, but can really eat if she loves it! Enjoy!

Seared Scallops over Risotto

Flourless Chocolate Torte

This torte tasted great and I followed the directions to the tee. I cook all the time, so am never intimidated by complicated recipes, let alone simple ones. It was cooked perfectly, but for the life of me, I could not get it off the springform pan. I put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and tried again; it just smooshed up together. So I put it in the freezer for a couple of hours and could finally get it off the bottom of the springform pan. I did not try to invert it or flip it as it did not seem to have the “staying” power. Previous to finally getting it free of the pan, I was about ready to scoop it out and just put it in compote bowls or old fashioned champagne glasses with a little whipped cream on top and some berries, as why waste a perfectly good dessert.

DESCRIPTION

A decadent, gluten-free flourless chocolate cake recipe with no added sugar necessary!


INGREDIENTS

  • 8 large eggs, cold
  • 1 lb. dark, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
  • optional toppings: powdered sugar and/or berries

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of an eight inch springform pan with parchment paper or waxed paper and grease the sides of the pan. (Be sure to grease the sides really well!) Wrap the outside of the pan with 2 sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil and set it in a large roasting pan, or any pan that’s larger than the springform. Bring a kettle or pot of water to boil.
  2. In stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs at high speed until the volume doubles. This takes about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and butter together. You can either do this in a double boiler on the stove . Or you can do this in the microwave (by heating the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth).
  4. Fold about a third of the beaten eggs into the chocolate mixture using a large rubber spatula until only a few streaks of egg are visible. Fold in half of the remaining egg foam, and then the last half of the foam, until the mixture is totally uniform.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Place the roasting pan on the oven rack and VERY carefully pour in enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cake has risen slightly, the edges are just beginning to set, a thin-glazed crust (like a brownie) has formed on the surface, and an instant-read thermometer inserted halfway into the center reads 140° F, 22-25 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath and set on a wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cool. (The cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)
  6. About 30 minutes prior to serving, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan, invert the cake onto a sheet of waxed paper, peel off the parchment paper, and invert the cake onto a serving platter.
  7. If desired, lightly dust the cake with powdered sugar and top with berries. To slice, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife, dipping the knife into a pitcher of hot water and wiping the blade before each cut. ( I top with a chocolate ganache)

NOTES

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated http://www.cooksillustrated.com/

Flourless Chocolate Torte

Salmon with Parsley Sauce

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for over thirty years, I love Salmon of all types and cooked in a variety of different ways. I found this sort of accidentally online and thought I might try it with some of the beautiful parsley I grow in my herb garden. I planted my garden several months ago and it is finally starting to take off. The following bright and flavorful parsley oil makes a great salmon sauce. I served it with bacon wrapped asparagus for the perfect dinner. We paired it with a nice Pinot Noiir.


Ingredients


For the parsley salmon sauce:
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Whole30 salmon:
4 3-ounce salmon llets, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Instructions

  1. First, make the salmon sauce: combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender, and
    pulse until very smooth. Pour into a jar, and set aside.
  2. Next, sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the salmon llets, and heat a large skillet
    over medium-high heat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.
  4. Add the olive oil to the pan, and then add the salmon, SKIN SIDE DOWN.
  5. Watch the salmon cook on the edges. When it’s half-way cooked, move the skillet to the
    oven to nish cooking. No need to ip this salmon!
  6. Cook the salmon in the oven to your desired level of doneness. I like my salmon a little red
    in the middle, so I cook it for 8-10 minutes, but if you prefer it all the way done, cook it for
    12-15 minutes.
  7. Remove the salmon from the skillet, place on a serving dish and drizzle with the pars

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus is one of the best recipes for easy entertaining! Cook it in the oven, on the
grill, or stove. Crispy and flavorful every time! It is so easy in the oven and you can cook it at the same temperature as the fish. I like to make many things with asparagus. The other night we had a simple asparagus soup. I used the leftover asparagus, cut up and added to our dinner salad.

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound asparagus spears trimmed (about 20 to 24 spears)
  • 1 Tbl Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 strips thick-cut bacon

Instructions

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. For easy cleanup, line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. ( and I put tin foil under this to make sure there is no mess)
  • Place the asparagus in a large bowl or on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Count the spears and divide the total number by 8. Gather that number of spears (likely 2 to 4 spears, depending upon their thickness) and hold them together in a single bundle. Starting midway to the top, wrap the bundle with one piece of bacon (overlap the starting end of the bacon slightly to secure it) and place the bundle on the prepared baking sheet, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining spears.
  • Bake until the bacon is crisp and the asparagus is tender, about 22 to 28 minutes, depending upon the thickness of your bacon and how crisp you’d like it to be. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note

  • You can add additional toppings, such as balsamic glaze, cheese, honey, and more!

Thought you might like to see a photo of my growing, still growing Herb Garden in California.

Note that the parsley is taking over the world and the chives are not doing so well yet! Hopefully they will take off growing soon, as they tried to take over my garden in Washington.

Salmon with Parsley Sauce

French Fare: Salmon / Spinach Crêpes

Make this hearty traditional French dinner of savory crêpes with a creamy sauce.

Buttery in flavor and delicate in texture, crêpes are paper thin, soft, pancake-like wrappers that are the ideal vessel for both sweet and savory fillings. Like my mother, I more often use crêpes for savory fillings, like this salmon-spinach one, but they are just as delicious when reheated in a little butter and sugar, folded, and served with a drizzle of chocolate sauce or filled with glazed cinnamon apples.

Crêpes are traditionally made in special, shallow steel pans, but I find that most home cooks, especially those new to crêperie, have an easier time with a small nonstick pan with sloping sides and an 8-inch-diameter flat bottom — inexpensive and perfect for crêpe making. If you’re new to crêpe making, I suggest making a double batch of the batter and try using a bit more batter than what’s called for (use a smidge over 1⁄4 cup) while you get used to rotating and tilting the pan to coat it evenly. The crêpes will be a bit thicker but still good. As you move through the batch, reduce the amount of batter until the crêpes are thin and delicate. We served this with a lovely Pinot Noir.

French Fare: Salmon And Spinach Crêpes

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy
  • Serving Size: 2

Ingredients

Crêpes

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To assemble

  • 2 crêpes
  • 2 4-ounce boneless, skinless salmon fillets (1 inch, 2.5 cm, thick at the center)
  • 1 tablespoon ground Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives, for garnish

Directions

For the crêpes

  1. Put the milk, flour, eggs, 5 tablespoons of the melted butter, and the salt in a blender. Blend until very smooth, about 1 minute, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides. Pour the batter into a medium bowl, cover, and set aside at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

  2. If the batter has been refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature. Set a 10-inch nonstick skillet with sloping sides and an 8-inch bottom over medium heat until droplets of water immediately evaporate upon hitting the pan. Using a folded paper towel, coat the skillet with a little of the remaining melted butter. Working quickly, pour a scant 1⁄4 cup batter into the center of the pan while lifting the pan and rotating and tilting it clockwise to cover the bottom evenly with the batter. Cook until lacy golden brown on the bottom, about 1 minute. Carefully slide a heatproof spatula under the crêpe and turn it over, then continue cooking for another 30 seconds, until the crêpe is just beginning to brown in spots. Slide the crêpe onto a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining batter, lightly greasing the pan when necessary (about every other crêpe) and stacking the crêpes as they are cooked.

For the sauce

  1. Whisk the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted and bubbling. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and bubbling but not browned, 1 minute. Pour in the milk and continue cooking, whisking constantly, until thickened and boiling. Cook for 1 minute, then slide the pan off the heat. Add the lemon juice, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste, then whisk until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside to cool.

For the filling and assembly

  1. Warm the oil in a medium, ovenproof skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until light brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until it’s wilted and well coated with the oil. Slide the pan off the heat, add the sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste, and toss until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside to cool.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Have ready the crêpes, sauce, and spinach.
  3. Arrange the crêpes on the counter. Place a salmon fillet down the center of each crêpe and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the spinach mixture evenly on top of the salmon. Fold one side of the crêpe up and over the filling and repeat with the other side. Arrange seam-side up, about ¾ inch apart, in the same skillet.
  4. Spoon the sauce evenly over the crêpes and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the sauce is bubbling, the top is browned, and the salmon is cooked, 18 to 20 minutes. Move the skillet to a rack, sprinkle with the chives, and serve immediately.
French Fare: Salmon / Spinach Crêpes

Mussels with White Beans & Tomatoes

Cooking mussels may seem intimidating, but this recipe is quick and easy. The white beans to turn this classic mussels-in-white-wine-sauce dish into a heartier weeknight meal. Serve with whole-grain crusty bread to sop up the flavorful broth. I found this recipe in Eating Well and it was a big hit in our house.

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups grape tomatoes, halved ( I forgot to half them initially, so had to go back to the pot and do them one at a time. It is very important for the taste to do this.)
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced ( I used four or five as I always say, garlic is yummy and so good for you! No vampires in this house)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added white beans, rinsed
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary (see Tip)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Directions

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and shallot; cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to release their liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beans and stir to combine. Place mussels on top and pour in wine. Cover and cook until the mussels open (discard any unopened mussels), 5 to 6 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with more thyme, if desired. How easy it that and it was delicious!

Tip: To clean mussels, rinse well under cold running water and use a stiff brush to remove any barnacles or grit from the shell. Discard any mussels with broken shells or any shells that remain open after you tap them lightly. Pull off any fibrous “beard” that might be pinched between the shells; the “beards” of most cultivated mussels are already removed.

We served it with a lovely Pinot Noir.

Mussels with White Beans & Tomatoes

Spinach Soup

So easy and delicious and amazingly yummy! Made a few changes to the recipe I found in one of my cooking magazines. I doubled the amount of spinach used, added a little more homemade stock, did not add croutons and cooked my fresh spinach in the microwave to save time.

I view a lot of blogs that show step by step photos of all the simple food they prepare. At risk of being considered a food snob, I think all the illustrations are unnecessary if you know anything about cooking. I like to skip to the recipe and get to work. If you ever need assistance with a recipe, just let me know!

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 

1 onion, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 cloves garlic, minced ( I used four and it was perfect)

russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes

2 lbs fresh spinach, thick stems trimmed ( I did not trim it and the recipe called for 1 lb, but 2 was great. I precooked it in the microwave in big bowl to save time)

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used about 6 cups and make my own, so it has a lot more flavour.)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper 

1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for garnish

FOR THE CROUTONS ( did not add croutons, but served with Irish Soda Bread I had made the day before)

3 tbsp butter

1 cup cubed bread 

Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and green onions and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, then add potato and spinach. Pour over broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is bright green, and potatoes are tender, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in cream.
  3. Garnish with more cream and croutons.

MAKE CROUTONS

  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add bread in a single layer and cook, tossing often, until bread is golden all over, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Drain on paper towels and season immediately with salt.

We served this with a 2017 Suisun Valley Red Wine Petite Sirah from the Lanza Family Vineyard. Perfection!

Spinach Soup

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

In the winter months, there seems nothing better than making soup, and of course then having it for lunch or dinner. It is so fast and easy. I often make a couple in one day, so we have several meals from it. I freeze what we don’t eat, so we have something I can defrost on a busier day. Right now days are not too busy with the pandemic.

A French classic, this creamy potato leek soup is quick, easy, and delicious! And always good with a nice red wine! But then I think most anything is good with a nice red wine.

Servings: 6

Prep Time: 25

Minutes

Cook Time: 40 Minutes

Total Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 7 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream ( I did not have any, so used 1/2 cup of sour cream)
  • Chives, finely chopped, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. Do not to brown.
  2. Add the potatoes, broth, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.
  3. Remove the thyme sprig and bay leaves, and purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth, or use a standard blender to purée the soup in batches. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If soup is too thin, simmer until thickened. If it’s too thick, add water or stock to thin it out. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
  1. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen, without the cream, for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. Once heated through, add the cream and bring to a simmer before serving.

Note: I added some slice ham, so make it a bit hardier. It was wonderful.

Potato Leek Soup

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

What’s for dinner on a weeknight? Got some hamburger in the freezer, some fresh mushrooms, sour cream and a few other additional items and you have the poor man’s version of Beef Stroganoff:

I served it with a ten-minute instant pot recipe for artichoke. They are on sale this time of year, so perfect accompaniment for a simple dinner.

The recipe can vary based on the ingredients you have on hand. I find ground beef gives the best flavor but you can certainly substitute another type of ground meat such as ground turkey or pork.  If using something other than beef, you’ll likely want to add some extra Maggi or Beef Bouillon for a richer flavor!

This easy Ground beef stroganoff recipe is made from scratch with fresh ingredients (no Cream of Mushroom soup as there is too much sodium). This way too simple to make!  You’re literally just  minutes away from getting this beef stroganoff on the table!

  1. Brown beef, onions and garlic.
  2. Add mushrooms, sauce & seasonings.  Simmer a few minutes.
  3. Start your egg noodles cooking!
  4. Stir in sour cream and serve over egg noodles.

Sauce:

  • Sour cream may curdle if it boils so add the sour cream, after you have completed everything else.
  • You can use Greek yogurt if you do not have sour cream. I prefer “light” sour cream or non-dairy sour cream.

Add a little more flavor with any or all of the following:

  • A teaspoon or so of dijon mustard
  • Add a sprig or two of fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon of dried)
  • Add a couple of slices of chopped cooked bacon with the sour cream. ( You can cook it covered with a paper towel for six minutes)
  • Add a small bit of smoked paprika and a dash of hot sauce

I like to serve over thick fresh egg noodles, but you could serve it over potatoes, rice or normal pasta.

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3/4 lb fresh mushrooms sliced ( I like a variety of fresh mushrooms)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef broth (I have bone broth, which worked great)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Instructions
  • Brown ground beef, onion and garlic in a pan until no pink remains.
  • Add sliced mushrooms and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 more minute. ( I cook my mushrooms separately ahead of time, so there is less liquid)
  • Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low 10 minutes.
  • Cook egg noodles according to package directions.
  • Remove beef mixture from the heat, Let sit to cool a bit, stir in sour cream and parsley.
  • Serve over egg noodles.

Enjoy with a nice bottle of red wine!

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

Life brings you joy, happiness, challenges, changes and a long list of other things. This last year I sold my beach house, got a divorce and could only afford a small older cottage. It is amazing how well we all can adopt.

So begins a new story in my life in a small waterfront town in Washington half a year, and in California the other half. The little house has literally nothing in the yard, but brush that people left for years under the trees. My gardener from my last house took out two full dump trucks full of yard waste and etc. I have spent a lot of time putting down beauty bark, and will slowly plant the garden. (not today) Friends have been generous with gleanings from their gardens, so I know in the long run it will be lovely and carefree! (In appearance, not maintenance)

The entire little house has been painted the brightest white available, and I would love to replace doors, trim and cabinets, but that is not in the budget at the moment. I cheated on the drawing, as the house is actually yellow, not my favorite color! So hopefully next summer we can paint it a nice dark gray.

Every day is a new and mostly fun challenge. Today I discovered who ever lived here waxed the ceramic tile floor. It was already kind of an ugly light pink, but it never looked clean. Today Clorox and a brush on my knees, and a metal scraper, helped it look a tiny bit better.

I serendipitously came to see my first love from college again about a year ago. His late wife was a sorority sister, a beautiful and smart woman whose Celebration of Life I attended. It was wonderful to see they had a wonderful life together. I guess I had always wondered how his life had gone. It was a beautiful celebration and I was so happy to know he had a good life and two wonderful children. It was amazing to reconnect with so many of my AX sorority sisters from fifty years ago.

Over time Reed & I talked and discovered, both being widowed there was still some magic in life. We are having a amazing time getting to know each other in our seventies. You never know what will happen in life.

With the wildfires and COVET 19 life is not simple for anyone. The air quality was so bad in Washington when I wrote this, I was not sure if it is even a good idea to go to my garage to paint. We are having strange times. I feel lucky to be sharing it with someone so positive, loving and laughing.

My Little Cottage (not by the sea)