I found these two recipes buried deep in newspaper columns – a wonderful surprise and beautiful treasure after reading about warm family memories, adventurous anecdotes and fun fishing reveries. These delightful dishes will definitely be featured again at our table and even perhaps in future family stories.
OVEN BAKED FISH
4 to 6 fish filets
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon old bay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Heat oven to 400F. Place filets in a lightly greased 9-by-13 baking pan. In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, butter, onion, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and seasonings. Spread sauce evenly over fish filets. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of the fish.
Bake for 15 minutes. To finish cooking, turn on broiler for two or three minutes until fish is golden brown.
Recipe adapted from The Flip Side, Flip Putthoff
(I halved this recipe)
You take 2 pie crusts, unroll them. Mix about 3 tablespoons cocoa powder with roughly 10 heaping tablespoons of sugar in a bowl. Spread mixture equally onto each pie crust, leaving about a 1/2-inch perimeter. Drizzle a half-stick of melted butter over the mixtures, and carefully roll crusts back up into a log shape – not making too tight a roll. Lightly press ends and edges to seal. Place on a baking sheet, and bake at 400F for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool before slicing.
Recipe adapted from My Roots Are Showing, Lisa Kelley
I recently vacationed with dear friends – originating the planning months ahead to ensure our schedules would synchronize. Amazingly we made it all work around our husbands travel and kids activities and our general life commitments, to spend four glorious days at the beach, catching up on each others lives and relaxing.
While dinner was usually out at a restaurant, we had a supply of provisions after a visit to the nearby supermarket, and snacked out of the refrigerator and cupboards during the day.
One of the breakfast items available was Granola which we mixed with yogurt, and I was reminded how much I enjoy this cereal – and couldn’t wait to start cooking once I was back home again.
2 cups old-fashioned, uncooked oats
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup sunflower seed kernels
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
dried or fresh fruit to serve
Heat oven to 350F. Combine oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, sesame seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl.
Melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in maple syrup. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
Pour sugar mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine. Spread evenly on a greased baking pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally during baking. Cool. Serve with fruit of choice.
Recipe adapted from Relish Magazine
Thoughtful and generous friends delivered a bounty of freshly harvested Morel Mushrooms. I was absolutely thrilled as I had not seen or tasted this elusive wild forest fungus, and was eager to experience the joy and reverence they inspire.
We gave the mushrooms a light dusting of flour and pan cooked them in butter, as our friends suggested, and still had enough to cover with cream and bake in the oven with our fresh yard eggs.
EGGS AND MORELS BAKED IN CREAM
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped
8 fresh morel mushrooms, diced
1 cup cream
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
Heat oven to 375F. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallot, cook, stirring constantly, until shallot has softened, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes. Add cream, bring to a simmer. Immediately remove from heat and let mushroom mixture cool 5 minutes.
Butter four ramekins, place dishes in a rimmed baking sheet. Crack an egg into each baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Pour the mushroom-cream mixture into dishes, dividing evenly, and sprinkle with chives. Bake on baking sheet until the egg whites are just set, 9 to 12 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
It’s spring in Arkansas, which means we have encountered almost every kind of weather over the past week, and experienced deeply fluctuating temperatures – enabling us to go from gloves and coat on our morning walk, to sitting outside in a tank top, sweating by mid-afternoon.
With the current heavy rainfall – causing flooding all over the area, and cooler temperatures, augmented by gloomy, grey skies – it seems appropriate to return to hearty, warming, winter dishes.
RIGATONI WITH BEEF AND POMEGRANATE RAGU
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 3/4 cups beef stock
1 cup pomegranate juice
cooked pasta for serving
1/2 cup plain yogurt for serving
In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the celery, shallots and garlic, season.
Cook, stirring often, until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and rosemary and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the stock and pomegranate juice. Simmer the ragu over medium-low, stirring often, until the liquid is thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes, season.
Divide the pasta among bowls, top with the ragu and yogurt.
CREAMY CHICKPEA CURRY
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 pound potatoes, cut into pieces
1 carrot, diced
4 cups cauliflower florets
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup frozen peas
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Melt coconut oil in a pot over medium heat. Saute onion until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add curry powder, pepper flakes, broth, tamari, maple syrup and tomato paste and stir.
Add potatoes and carrot, cover pot and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cook just until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add cauliflower, chickpeas, coconut milk and cilantro. Stir gently to incorporate. Return to simmer and cook just until cauliflower is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Fold in peas and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.
I brought a container of fresh pineapple home from the supermarket – already peeled, cored and cut – thinking to provide a convenient snack, needing no preparation.
What I imagined would be gone in mere hours, was still languishing in the refrigerator days later – so I promptly looked for recipes to transform this tropical fruit.
After chopping, measuring, mixing, patting, pouring and placing the Fresh Pineapple Bars into the oven, I received a call from the school nurse, informing me my daughter wasn’t feeling well and would need to be picked up. Torn between motherly duty and bakers responsibility, I turned the temperature down on the oven and made the drive across town – with the bars being no worse for my neglect during their cooking time.
By comparison, using up the rest of the fruit was simple – I blended it with lime and simple syrup, poured it into three glasses, topped two of them with gin and a sprig of fresh mint and enjoyed a happy hour with my husband and daughter.
FRESH PINEAPPLE BARS
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups flour, divided
1 cup sugar, divided
pinch of salt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
Heat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with foil, spray with cooking spray, set aside.
In a large bowl, add the butter, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Reserve 3/4 cup of this mixture, set aside.
Transfer remaining mixture into prepared pan and lightly press crumbs until even to form a crust.
Bake for 10 minutes.
While crust bakes, make the filling. In a large bowl, add the egg, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, sour cream, vanilla extract, and remaining 1/4 cup flour and whisk until smooth.
Remove the crust from the oven and top evenly with pineapple. Pour the sour cream mixture over the pineapple.
Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the top to create the crumble topping.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until edges and top are set. Place pan on wire rack and allow to cool for at least an hour before slicing and serving.
PINEAPPLE AND GIN COCKTAIL
Blend 3 cups fresh pineapple pieces with 1 cup ice and 1 ounce of pineapple juice. Mix in 2 ounces simple syrup and 2 ounces fresh lime juice. Pour into glasses and top with gin, stir gently to mix. Garnish with mint.
I took my daughter, a friend of hers and my youngest son to a movie on a quiet Tuesday afternoon – which ended up being an unexpectedly luxurious experience. The theatre had recently been renovated, and outfitted with super-sized reclining seats – and even more enchanting – we were the only ones in there.
Once the movie ended, we roused ourselves from the depths of comfort, moved our chairs to their upright positions, discarded drink cups and most of the enormous bag of popcorn I had somehow purchased, and returned home after dropping my daughters friend off. Thankfully the dish I planned to make for dinner, Roasted Salmon and Fennel with Pistachio Gremolata didn’t take very long to prepare, and was ready to eat by the time my husband emerged from his meditation practice. We poured a glass of rose` wine, made a simple green salad and our family gathered around the table on the back porch for dinner.
ROASTED SALMON AND FENNEL WITH PISTACHIO GREMOLATA
2 medium fennel bulbs, cored and sliced into wedges
1/2 red onion, sliced into wedges
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 salmon fillets
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup salted, shelled pistachios, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Heat oven to 400F.
Line a large rimmed sheet pan with foil. On the pan, toss the fennel and onion with the olive oil and a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables evenly and roast until tender and browned at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Place the salmon fillets amongst the vegetables, spaced evenly apart, and season with salt and pepper. Roast until salmon is just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the gremolata (unfortunately not pictured) place the parsley, pistachios, lemon zest and garlic into a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Serve the salmon and vegetables topped with the gremolata.
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking, October/November 2015
Ever since returning from our Spring Break trip to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in March – we have been on the go, with what has felt like, barely a moment to spare.
A few days after horse riding, rock climbing, zip lining and eating LOTS of amazing food, my husband and I left for Washington DC – as president of the Arkansas Hospitality Association he had a conference to attend and meetings planned with our state senator and congressmen.
Following four days in the Capitol, it was home to parent-teacher conferences, birthday parties (both kid and adult – necessitating gift buying and appetizer making), happy hours, a Shrimp boil, and getting organized for family photos (which was no small feat and more time consuming than I would have ever imagined – spray tan, facial, teeth whitening, hair appointment and professional make-up, while ensuring the parts of the house to be permanently captured on film were clean and tidy), as well as attending to all the regular activities, daily tasks and volunteer endeavors for our family of five.
Then, after organizing a pizza donation, a wedding anniversary, a dinner party to celebrate 25 years in business, and readying our home for an evening with a group of incredible chefs, followed closely by 3 family friends from New Zealand coming to visit for a couple of nights on their 6-week road trip across the States – it was wonderful to enjoy a quiet, relaxing Easter with our family – and to have left overs for a simple, wholesome meal the next day.
CRUSTLESS HAM AND GREENS QUICHE
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 onion, diced
1 cup chopped mushrooms
3 cups diced ham
2 cups gruyere cheese
3 cups mixed kale, spinach and swiss chard, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon herbs de provence
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat oven to 350F.
Put the quinoa in a mixing bowl, add eggs, cheese, sour cream, herbs de provence, garlic and Dijon mustard. Mix in the greens and ham.
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, saute onions until they start to caramelize, add mushrooms and saute for a few minutes.
Add onion mixture to egg mixture, stir to combine. Pour into a well greased dish, bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until set.
Top with shredded parmesan. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting to serve.
Recipe adapted from The Dining Guide, April 2014
This simple, wholesome loaf is very quick and easy to make – and a delicious way to celebrate St Patricks day
IRISH BROWN BREAD
2 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour, divided use
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup oat bran
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk, divided use
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Heat oven to 400F.
In a bowl, stir together 2 1/4 cups of the whole-wheat flour, the all-purpose flour, rolled oats, oat bran, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. With a fork, stir in 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk and the melted butter. Add more buttermilk if needed, a little at a time, just until a soft dough forms.
Knead dough in the bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. If dough is too wet, knead in up to 4 teaspoons whole-wheat flour, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Using a sharp knife, make 2 crisscross slashes on top of each loaf.
Bake loaves for 30 to 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean and bottoms of loaves sound hollow when tapped.
Remove bread from baking sheet and place on a rack to cool.
After giving a recent presentation about New Zealand to two middle school classes as part of International Week (during which I attempted to divert attention and gain favor with the miniature candy bars my Mum sent over to share)
I was inspired to share a little of my home country cuisine with friends we had invited for dinner.
HONEY LEMON RACK OF LAMB
1 rack of lamb
4 cloves garlic, halved
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 350F.
Cut 1-inch deep slits in lamb, insert garlic. Place lamb in shallow roasting pan, set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine honey, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt, cook over low heat until bubbly, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, stir in lemon zest, mint and walnuts. Spoon glaze over lamb, bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until internal temperature registers 135 degrees, baste occasionally. Remove from oven, let stand 5 to 10 minutes or until internal temperature is 145 degrees. Slice and serve.
Recipe adapted from The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2015
4 egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon cornflour
3 tablespoons boiling water
Heat oven to 150C.
Beat all ingredients together in an electric mixer for 15 minutes until the mixture forms firm, glossy peaks.
Spoon the mixture onto greased baking paper in 8 small circles. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the pavlova inside for at least another hour. Do not open the oven during this time.
To serve, place onto plates and garnish with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
Recipe adapted from Good Food New Zealand Style, Chanel Publishers, 2001