Salad-Topped Hummus Platter

The culmination of my daughter’s summer theatre camp involves days of dress rehearsals followed by matin√©e and evening performances. She absolutely loves it all and it is worth every second, but it was also difficult to prepare and eat dinner during this time. That’s show business, right? ūüėČ

This genius quick, healthy, and filling appetizer turned dinner saved the day the evening of her final performance. The recipe was adapted from Ina Garten via Smitten Kitchen.com. I made my favorite hummus, added arugula, used a peeled CSA cucumber, and substituted red wine vinegar for lemon juice in the dressing. I could eat it all summer long!

  • 2 cups prepared hummus
  • 2 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces or 225 grams) grape tomatoes, quartered, plus more to taste
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, or multiple small cucumbers, unpeeled, chopped
  • 1/4 medium red onion, chopped small, optional
  • 1 T red wine vinegar or juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sumac
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, or a mix of parsley, mint, and chives, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large handfuls baby arugula, to taste
  • warm naan or pita, for serving
  1. Prepare hummus in a food processor.
  2. Spread hummus on a large plate with the back of a spoon, creating swirls and cavities. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, just to freshen it up.
  3. Mix tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, red wine vinegar/lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons olive oil, sumac, plus salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  4. Stir in herbs.
  5. Top hummus with arugula. Heap salad on top of the arugula. Finish with additional sumac and/or fresh herbs.
  6. Serve with warm naan or pita wedges.

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Iceberg Wedge Salad with Green Goddess Ranch Dressing

This post is belated because I’m still recovering from my husband’s extravagant birthday feast. Recovering from preparing it… and from eating it (for many, many days!). ūüėČ I must say that it was well worth every minute AND every bite.

His special celebratory feast¬†usually involves fried chicken with biscuits and gravy, macaroni and cheese, and his favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake for dessert. I have made Caesar salad as our “vegetable” in the past, but this year he requested a wedge salad. Yay! I love a change.

This recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn, via Martha Stewart Living. I used 4 tablespoons of buttermilk to adjust the consistency of the dressing. I also adapted the way the iceberg lettuce was sliced to modify the serving size and simplify the eating process. We all LOVED it!

For the Green Goddess Ranch Salad Dressing:

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives and/or scallions, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste or 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mild vinegar, such as white-wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • buttermilk or milk (optional)
  1. In a large bowl or blender, whisk or blend all the ingredients except the buttermilk.
  2. Add just enough buttermilk to thin to the desired consistency, if needed. (I used 4 tablespoons.)
  3. Pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to combine. Shake well before using.

Note: Dressing will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Complete the Salad:

Yield: 4 Servings

  • Green Goddess Ranch Dressing (recipe above)
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into thick slices or wedges
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
  • English cucumber, cut into slices
  1. Prepare Green Goddess dressing and set aside.
  2. In a 9 x 13-inch pyrex baking dish, bake bacon at 350 degrees for 20 to 3o minutes, until crispy.
  3. Place 1 iceberg lettuce slice/wedge and 4 to 6 cucumber wedges on each plate.
  4. Pour some dressing over top with crumbled bacon and minced chives over each serving, as desired.

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Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup

When my friend,¬†Julie of Hostess at Heart,¬†posted this mouthwatering soup, I knew that I had to make it for my mushroom-loving Thanksgiving guests. (My family!) It was very well received. ūüôā

I adapted the recipe by cooking the wild rice on the stove top in an enameled cast iron pot instead of in the oven. I made it in advance and froze it without any issues. It was earthy, full-flavored, and absolutely fabulous.

Yield: Serves 12

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • ‚Ä®2 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, plus 8 additional cloves, minced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • scant 1/2¬†teaspoon baking soda
  • 0.4 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms (I used a combination of dried portobello & shiitakes)
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 24 oz¬†cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium or 1 1/2 large yellow onions, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1¬†cup dry sherry
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable¬†stock
  • 1 1/2 T light soy sauce
  • 6 T¬†cornstarch
  • 3/4¬†cup heavy cream
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 6 T minced fresh chives, plus more for garnish, optional
  1. Bring water, thyme, bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and baking soda to boil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and return to a boil. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Cover saucepan and cook until rice is tender, about 55 minutes.
  3. Strain rice through a fine-mesh strainer set in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup; discard thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Add enough water to reserved cooking liquid to measure 4 1/2 cups.
  4. Grind shiitake mushrooms in a spice grinder until finely ground. (You should have about 4 1/2 tablespoons.)
  5. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat.
  6. Add cremini mushrooms, onions, minced garlic, tomato paste, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.
  7. Cook stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and dark fond develops on bottom of pot, about 15 minutes.
  8. Add sherry, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until reduced and pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add ground mushrooms, reserved rice cooking liquid, chicken broth, and soy sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushroom are tender, about 20 minutes.
  10. In a small bowl, place 6 tablespoons of simmering liquid from pot and whisk in the cornstarch.
  11. Stir cornstarch slurry into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  12. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest.
  13. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Herbed Pappardelle with Asparagus & Burrata

My husband and I are obsessed with burrata- especially with asparagus. Such a heavenly combination!

Naturally, as I am also such a pasta fan, this dish caught my eye right away. It was fresh and especially wonderful to make in backyard herb season.¬†This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff favorite” recipe, contributed by Grace Parisi. I doubled the asparagus,¬†substituted¬†fresh pappardelle for fazzoletti, and omitted the¬†chervil. Yum!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 3/4 cup parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T snipped chives, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T tarragon leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T chervil leaves, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound fresh pasta sheets, cut into 3-inch squares (fazzoletti) or fresh pappardelle
  • 1/4 cup raw pine nuts, preferably Italian
  • 8 to 10 ounces burrata or buffalo mozzarella, cut into cubes
  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the 3/4 cup of parsley with the 2 tablespoons each of chives, tarragon and chervil (if using). Pulse until chopped.
  2. Add the lemon juice and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the oil to the herbs and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put the asparagus in a colander and ease it into the boiling water. Blanch the asparagus just until bright green, about 2 minutes. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Shake dry.
  4. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  5. In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the pine nuts and toast over moderate heat until golden; transfer to a plate.
  6. Add the pasta, herb puree, asparagus and the pasta water to the skillet. Cook over moderate heat, tossing well.
  7. Toss in the cheese and pine nuts.
  8. Transfer to bowls and garnish with whole herbs.

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Lobster & Corn Chowder

This chowder tastes so luscious and rich but it is completely creamless. It doesn’t even have any butter! The “creaminess” is from pur√©ed corn. Its rich¬†and intense flavor is from the homemade stock which is¬†made from the lobster shells and corn cobs. Mmmm. ūüôā

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used 2 lobster tails instead of 1 whole lobster, increased the amount of corn, and added leeks. We ate it with French rolls and green salad. Healthy and wonderful!

Yield: About 6 cups, Serves 4 to 5 as a main course

Total Time: about 2 hours

  • 3/4 to 1 pound lobster tails (I used 2)
  • 8¬†fresh corn cobs, kernels removed and cobs reserved
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 leeks, halved and cut into 1/2-inch moons
  • 1 medium yellow¬†onion, chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • vegetable stock, chicken stock, or clam juice, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  1. Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat to medium-low. Place lobster into water, and simmer, covered, for 8 minutes. (Do not let water boil.) Transfer lobster tails to ice-water bath using tongs; reserve cooking liquid. Let stand for 10 minutes to cool.
  2. Crack lobster tails and remove meat; reserve shells. Coarsely chop meat. (You should have about 1 cup.) Refrigerate until ready to use. (Note: At this point, the lobster meat can be refrigerated overnight.)
  3. Return shells to pot with cooking liquid. Add reserved cobs. Simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 35 minutes. Strain stock through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
  4. Meanwhile, soak the leeks in a bowl of cold water. Swish to clean. Remove leeks from the top allowing any sand or grit to settle on the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Heat oil in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Cook corn kernels, leeks, onion, garlic, and 3/4 teaspoon salt, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Add 5 cups lobster stock, and cook for 15 minutes. (I had to supplement with chicken stock because I didn’t have 5 cups of lobster stock! Clam juice would also work well as a supplement.) Let cool slightly.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, set aside 1 1/2 cups corn mixture.
  8. Purée remaining corn mixture and strained liquid in a blender or Vitamix until smooth.
  9. Working in batches, strain soup through a large fine-mesh sieve, and return to the pot with reserved corn and lobster meat.
  10. Cook over medium heat until warmed through.
  11. Stir in chives, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and some pepper. Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with additional chives, if desired.

Note: The soup can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

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Creamy Tomato Risotto with Crispy Garlic Crumbs

This wonderful dish is truly season-less. I made it with canned tomatoes but it would be amazing adapted to use fresh summer tomatoes and garden herbs. The crispy garlic breadcrumbs add crunch and a burst of flavor.

I modified the original recipe to cook in a pressure cooker- making it an elegant weeknight meal. (I use my pressure cooker almost exclusively for risotto!) This recipe was adapted from Nicky @Kitchen Sanctuary.com. Lovely!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Risotto:

  • 800 g/28 oz can diced¬†tomatoes (or peeled and diced fresh tomatoes)
  • 400 ml/16 fl oz chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 T¬†tomato paste
  • 2 T extra-virgin¬†olive oil
  • 1 large¬†yellow or sweet onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 300¬†g/11 oz/ 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 150¬†ml/5¬†fl oz white wine (optional, replace with stock if you’d prefer)
  • 100 ml/4 fl oz light or heavy¬†cream
  • 60 g/2 oz freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano
  • freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
  • 2 generous¬†pinches of coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Crispy Garlic Crumbs:

  • 1 1/2 T unsalted butter
  • generous pinch or two of coarse salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 60 g/2 oz panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 T chopped chives or parsley
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 40 g/1.5¬†oz freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano

To Make the Tomato Stock:

  1. Using a colander or sieve, strain a can of chopped tomatoes over a bowl. Use a spoon to mash the tomatoes left in the sieve to a fine pulp, then pour this pulp back into the tomato juice in the bowl.
  2. Add in the stock and tomato paste and stir. The total yield will be a scant 6 cups.

To Make the Risotto:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pressure cooker (5 to 7 quarts). Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion starts to go translucent, add in the garlic, stir and cook for a further minute.
  2. Add the rice and stir until it turns opaque, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the unheated tomato stock and the wine. Stir to combine.
  4. Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure. Cook for 7 minutes.
  5. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions or place the pot under running (drizzling) cold water.¬†

To Make the Crispy Garlic Crumbs:

  1. Heat the butter in a small frying pan until it starts to foam.
  2. Add the salt and the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add in the breadcrumbs and stir to ensure the butter covers all of the breadcrumbs.
  4. Allow to cook until the breadcrumbs start to brown a little, stirring often. Keep a close eye on them as they burn very easily.
  5. When ready, turn off the heat and add in the herbs, lemon zest and parmesan.

To Finish the dish:

  1. Open the lid of the pressure cooker, being careful of the steam. Add in the cream, cheese, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine.
  2. Scoop portions out onto shallow bowls or plates. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top and serve.

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Mushroom Bourguignon

It’s official… “bourguignon” is my new favorite word! I can’t stop saying it!! AMAZING. ūüôā I’m driving my family crazy…

This “meaty” vegetarian dish is hearty and rich with flavor. A wonderful twist on a classic French dish. I adapted the recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook by Deb Perelman. We ate it over fresh tagliatelle noodles, but it would be delicious with any other type of egg noodles such as pappardelle as well. An easy and elegant weeknight meal.

Yield: Serves 6 as a main course

  • 3 T (45 ml) olive oil
  • 3 T (45 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 pounds cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, &¬†cut¬†into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 1/2 cups (172 g) pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 3/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups (352 ml) full-bodied red wine
  • 2 1/2 T (52 g) tomato paste
  • 3 cups (712 ml) beef, chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 2 T plus 1 tsp (18 g) all-purpose flour
  • egg noodles, for serving (I used fresh tagliatelle)
  • chopped chives or parsley, for garnish, optional
  • sour cream, for garnish, optional
  1.  Heat 1 1/2 T olive oil and 1 1/2 T butter in a medium-sized Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over high heat.
  2. Sear the mushrooms and thawed pearl onions until they begin to take on a little color- your mushrooms will make a delightful “squeak-squeak” as they’re pushed around the hot pan- but the mushrooms do not yet release any liquid, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove mushrooms and pearl onions from the pan and set aside.
  4. Lower the flame to medium and add the second T of olive oil. Add the carrot, yellow onion, shallot, thyme, a few pinches of coarse salt, and several grinds of black pepper in the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for just 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half, which will take about 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the tomato paste and the stock.
  8. Add back the mushrooms and pearl onions with any juices that have collected; bring the mixture to a boil- then reduce the temperature so it simmers for 10 to 15 minutes, or until both the mushrooms and onions are very tender.
  9. Combine the flour and the remaining butter with a fork; stir this into the stew.
  10. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to a “coating” consistency. (I boiled mine down for 10 minutes!) Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
  11. When the desired consistency of the stew is achieved, cook the egg noodles according to the package directions in salted boiling water.
  12. To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream (we omitted this topping), if using, and sprinkle with optional chives or parsley.

Note: The stew reheats very well on the second and third days in a large saucepan over low heat.

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