Fried Chive Blossoms with Garlic Aioli

A few weeks ago while I was in Maine, I came home and my daughter Abi was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. This week, she’ll be posting one of her recipes. Enjoy! – Donna

So I have a bit of a problem with certain food related things. The most expensive of my food problems is my cookbook addiction. My collection is mostly fueled by amazon pre-orders that occur after a few glasses of wine and that are promptly forgotten until suddenly there is a surprise box or three on the porch. My collection has actually become so large that I needed to move it from its home in my room to the bookcase by the kitchen. I wound up taking up an entire shelf of my mom’s cookbook bookcase, though I’m certain once I get back all of my lent out copies that I may have to encroach on another shelf.

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the shelf is bending under the weight of them….maybe we need a sturdier bookcase

The problem with having such an addiction is that if you buy enough cookbooks, you’ll eventually start finding ones that are more for reading and less for actually making anything from. It’s not that the recipes are inaccessible or things I wouldn’t try; it’s just more that I live in the middle of nowhere and certain ingredients aren’t widely available. Also anything that calls for ‘foraging’…well let’s put it this way…my idea of being outdoorsy is drinking wine on the patio. You will not catch me traipsing through the woods for fiddleheads at the beginning of spring, nor will you catch me with my hands in mom’s garden, unless manicures have been promised for afterwards.

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This lengthy preamble brings me to one of my cookbooks that I never thought I would cook from, mostly due to the foraging that seemed to be necessary for ingredients, The Lost Kitchen by Erin French. I was in need of fresh tarragon, which isn’t readily available in either my mom’s herb boxes or at the more local grocery stores, but then I remembered Rosaly’s Farm. It’s a farm stand in our home town that has a Pick-Your-Own-Herbs garden. With my clippers and bucket in hand, I was good to go, but while I was out there, I got distracted by the gorgeous purple chive blossoms. Recalling that The Lost Kitchen had a recipe for fried chive blossoms, and a literal field of chive blossoms before me, I just couldn’t help myself.

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Upon returning home and actually reading the recipe, I already knew I’d be changing things around a bit. I suppose that is another food problem that I have…I never seem to be able to follow a recipe as written. I always want to tinker.  

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if you leave the stems on before frying, they make an excellent handle to dip into the batter, then hold them directly above the oil and use scissors to cut the stem off to drop them in

As written, it was a simple tempura batter, but since reading Night+Market by Kris Yenbamroong I have found myself incapable of sticking to a simple tempura when it comes to frying. So I added tapioca starch and rice flour to the batter with the reasoning that more crunch when frying is always better. Neither tapioca or rice flour have gluten, which helps them to fry really crispy, a fact learned from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. Tapioca starch is actually how your General Tso’s chicken stays crispy despite being smothered in sauce, and rice flour is what gives Japanese karaage (fried chicken) it’s distinctive crunch. So clearly, more is better.  

Honestly, this batter is everything. It continues to get harder and crunchier after it gets taken out of the oil and even the next day, providing you didn’t store your leftovers while hot, they will still be crunchy. Add some aioli to dip the fried chive blossoms into and you’ve got yourself an easy snack that is guaranteed to impress your friends when you’ve told them what exactly it was that you’ve made.

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FRIED CHIVE BLOSSOMS

1 1/4 cups tempura flour or tempura batter mix

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1/3 cup white rice flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground white pepper

3 cups club soda

24 + chive blossoms

Heat oil in a wok, dutch oven, or deep fryer to 375. To test the oil, drop a small blob of batter into it, it should bubble and brown within 30-40 seconds.

In a medium bowl, stir together the tempura, tapioca and rice flours and the salt and pepper. Pour in the soda water. Mix until there are no lumps left. It should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter.

Working in batches, dip the chive blossoms in the batter, and then drop into the oil. Fry until golden brown, flipping once. This should take about 1-2 minutes.

Transfer the blossoms to paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Serve immediately with the lemon-garlic aioli.

 

LEMON GARLIC AIOLI

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2 large egg yolks

1/2 garlic clove minced (my recipe dyslexia read this as 1-2 cloves garlic, so mine was VERY garlicky. not that anyone in our family minds)

1 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Salt

Using a handheld mixer or whisk, combine the yolks and garlic in a bowl. Continue to whisk as you add the oil very slowly, almost drop by drop. Once it starts to get thick and fluffy, you can add the oil in a steadier stream. Continue mixing until all of the oil has emulsified into the egg mixture. Add the lemon and season with salt to taste. Serve with fried chive blossoms.

If the aioli starts to look thin and greasy instead of fluffy and creamy, set it aside and start over. Once you’ve gotten the second batch to look fluffy and creamy then you can incorporate the old batch. You can never have too much aioli.

 

Pesto Turkey Pasta

I need to start by saying I try to keep my online media presence pretty low key, well actually I do the same in my day to day “real” life as well. I think I share just enough information about me and also about my family. I try to not “offend” or “overshare” too much and I don’t normally talk about the 3 hot topics; money, religion and politics. At least that was the top three while I was growing up.  Today it seems there is nothing off limits; more and more things are coming out of the shadows everyday.

I was very saddened to hear about the tragedy of Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain. I initially wrote the word suicides but I took it out and replaced it with tragedy because it sounded too harsh to me. I was brought up to not talk about anything too personal and I really don’t. Thankfully my daughter does not follow the same rules as I do. She needs help she asks, maybe someday I’ll be more like her.
IMG_2852.JPGI am a firm believer and have said it many many times that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. My heart breaks for their families and I hope that something positive can come out of these tragic losses. I felt I needed to say this as I have been thinking about it constantly. Depression is real if you need help please ask
US National suicide prevention line: 1-800-273-8255.

IMG_2848I don’t really know how to lead into the recipe I want to share with you so here it goes. My daughter made some delicious Basil Pistachio Pesto last weekend and what we didn’t eat with crackers I thought about using the rest for dinner. I also had some turkey cutlets that I needed to cook up and so it screamed pasta night. This would also be great if you had any leftover turkey though most people I know only eat turkey around Thanksgiving which is kind of a shame.  Who knows maybe you’ll want to try this and make a turkey leg or breast.
IMG_2849Pesto Turkey Pasta

2 large eggs
½ cup pesto – make fresh or buy your favorite brand (my “norm” recipe below) 
Box of pasta – farfalle, egg noodles, gemelli or similar
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lemon zested
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 cups chopped cooked turkey meat (cutlets or leftovers)
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Boil water for the pasta and cook according to the package, drain reserving some of the liquid.
IMG_2851.JPGIn a medium bowl add the pesto along with the eggs and the lemon zest.

Saute the onions along with the garlic, add the chopped turkey cook through, or add the already cooked turkey.  
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Add the pasta to the onions and turkey. Pour the egg pesto mixture over the pasta turkey. The heat will cook the egg – similar to carbonara.  


Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If needed add some of the reserved pasta water to lighten up if needed.

Basil Pesto
6 Ounces of washed and dried basil leaves, stems removed
4 Ounces of pine nut
6-8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Ounces of grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil – Salt and Pepper
Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse to combine. Add olive oil until you get the consistency you like, finish by adding the Parmesan cheese a little salt and pepper pulsing until combined.  Enjoy with and/or on just about anything.

 

Thai chicken breast lettuce wraps

The other day I went to my local grocery store with my usual shopping list bread, milk, lunch meat, lettuce, tom’s etc. and they didn’t have romaine or iceberg lettuce. My husband loves lettuce on his sandwiches so I brought home some butter lettuce also known as boston bibb lettuce. Well the lettuce was still in the fridge a week later, he probably looked in the drawer, didn’t see the “norm” and had lettuce free sandwiches all week. His loss!
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So me being well me I needed to use up what was in the fridge before it goes bad. Butter lettuce is perfect for lettuce wraps. I had some chicken breast that needed to be cooked up and it seemed like my fridge wanted me to make chicken breast lettuce wraps. They are simple, light and quite tasty.
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If you do not have thai sweet chili sauce of some sort in your pantry or fridge, you really should put it on your shopping list for next week.  It is simply divine; sweet and spicy. You can use it to top a taco, sandwich add to a salad. I fell in love with it dipping my fried dumplings in. Buy some you won’t regret it!
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Thai chicken breast lettuce wraps

3-4 boneless skinless chicken wraps
½ cup sweet thai chili sauce
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 lime juiced
3 Tbs olive oil
1-2 Tbs sriracha
2 tsp ginger – freshly grated or in a squeeze tube like mine
3-4 cloves garlic minced
1 small red onion – sliced thinly
1 carrot – julienned

In a bowl add chili, soy, lime, olive oil, sriracha, ginger and garlic. Stir and add chicken. Marinate for about an hour or less.
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In a pan cook the chicken till done, no longer pink.  Let it rest for about 10-15 minutes then slice thinly.
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Take a piece of lettuce add some chicken and top with red onion and a few carrots. It won’t be needed but you could also top with a little more sweet Thai chili sauce – just saying!

Cucumber red onion dip

Memorial Day weekend is first most here in the US a day to remember our fallen soldiers. There is usually a parade or two or even three or more within 20 miles of us. Thoughts and Thanks for all who serve!
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Secondly it is the start of summer, the end of black flies the official start of cookouts and camping for some.  I can throw a mean cookout but I am not a great camper; my idea of camping would be a bed and breakfast with a shared bathroom down the hall. My husband grew up camping across the country from California to Massachusetts every summer with his mother and siblings. I can share with you that he doesn’t miss it. He likes my version better.
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At a friends house a month or so ago she had made a light, bright and tasty little dip that I couldn’t eating. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing the recipe because I think it would be a nice addition to everyone’s table over the summer. Especially when the cucumbers start ripening from the garden.
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I hope everyone is able to get outside to pay their respects and enjoy a parade or two and maybe an afternoon BBQ.  
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Cucumber Red Onion Dip

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup sour cream
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
¼ finely chopped red onion
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 cups finely chopped english cucumber – remove any seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste
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Add everything into a bowl and stir.  Let it set up for about an hour.
Serve alongside plain bagel chips, wheat thins or something  

Zucchini Ravioli

I am not sure if it is the weather or my schedule of late but I havent really spent my usual amount of time planning the garden for this year. I was letting the dog out the side door just yesterday (Monday – i’m writing this one early as I am away this weekend) and noticed my asparagus was already 3 feet tall UGH! I hadn’t even cleaned out the debris from last year. I immediately went out and dealt with the situation and had some of the “normal” sized stalks for dinner – they were delicious as I knew they would be .
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Last year my zucchini was such a disappointment i am hoping for better this season. I realize people tend to use the oops I didn’t get to the garden in time sized squash that went from perfect to damn how did I miss that one; it’s the size of a Softball bat. For when they want to make zucchini lasagna; even though most times they are very seedy. But if you are looking for something to make with the cute little ones, this will fit the bill. Plus they are super cute and really easy to make.
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I actually have been trying for a month or so to make these. It started when I saw the crop of squash at the store, they were so cute so I grabbed a bag full. I forgot to go back to the other end of the store for the ricotta – fail. Then the next trip I grabbed some ricotta and thought I had some squash at home – fail. Finally I was going to make it happen – nope another fail timing is everything and it got away from me. Now I was determined and finally pulled it off. They don’t take long at all but I definitely could have used a few more to fill the pan I chose to make it in. I know just use a smaller dish – I know I know I have issues! Regardless I was very happy I finally made it happen, they are tasty, easy to assemble, quick and worth the wait.
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4-6 small Zucchini – for a 9×13 pan
1 large container Ricotta
2 eggs
1-2 tablespoon dried Parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesean Reggiano
1 cup mozzarella
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 jar marinara sauce
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Either make your marinara or use your favorite jarred sauce and doctor it up as you normally would, or not.
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In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, eggs, parsley, parmesan, mozzarella, salt and pepper. Mix till combined.
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Using your vegetable peeler, slice lengthwise till you can’t anymore. I didn’t do this but think it would be easier to leave the stem on to use as a handle.
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Depending how large you want your ravioli layer 2 slices side by side then top with two more slices going the opposite direction.
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Put a dollop of the cheese mixture in the center and fold into a little package.
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Layer as you would a lasagna. Sauce, ravioli, cheese and repeat.
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Bake for about 30 minutes until the top cheese layer is brown and bubbly
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Rice Pilaf plus plus

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!!!!!

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Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with using some pre-packaged items from pantry. I have a few staples that I use, albeit probably not very often but not because I don’t want to, I really kind of forget to open the cupboard. We are meat and potato kind of people so I sometimes space that I have rice in many forms on hand.
IMG_2729 - CopyThe other night I was going to cook up a pasta and veggie kind of side but opted for using a packaged rice pilaf but knew I wanted to use up a few small peppers and tomatoes that were about to go south fairly soon.
IMG_2727 - CopyIf you have never doctored up a plain ole box; again nothing wrong with it; but a few other ingredients you already have on hand and you will not be disappointed. My daughter was funny and asked if I made this up, I cannot take full credit as I was served something a little similar years ago it just had different ingredients.
IMG_2728 - CopyThere is no set rule of what you can add; again I wanted to use up some fridge items and then added a handful of spaghetti that I broke up and chopped up some marcona almonds along with my peppers and tomatoes. My fam loved it!
IMG_2734Package of rice pilaf
1 small onion diced
Small hand full of spaghetti broken into small pieces
Hand full of cherry tomatoes halved
1 medium pepper sliced, seeded and chopped
2 cups Chicken stock or water
Slivered or chopped almonds
Scallions or chives sliced
IMG_2732 - CopySaute the onion, pepper till soft. 4-5 minutes, add the spaghetti and brown a bit, add the rice and it’s packet. Add the stock, stir and cover. On low for about 20 minutes. Check to make sure the rice is done.  Add the sliced tomatoes, cover and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Just before serving add the almonds and top with scallions.

Marinated skirt or flank steak

I am going to start this by asking you to make this!!! Demanding is a little harsh but damn this is amazing even cold the next day! Just saying as a Mom that if my kids wanted to make this for me next weekend for Mothers day it would be a good day!!!!
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A couple of weekends ago  it was finally gorgeous out – a little chilly and windy but at least the sun was shining and it wasn’t snowing! Though I still have some snow on the ground in certain areas around the house; It was definitely time to start bringing out the patio furniture and starting up the grill. That was after we removed a mouse nest that was in the grill; disgusting;  so I vacuumed, washed and burned off any mice remnants YUCK! 700’F for 10 minutes ought to do the trick.
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Let’s just say that I was happy no one was taping me, I lifted the cover, my dog freaked out and chased, I screamed and my daughter laughed it was quite the ordeal. One of the stupid little rodents wanted back in while I was out there cooking. I told him to get out of here or I was letting the dog back out. My dog has a little cat in him in that he has caught mice before but no thank you!
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While my daughter and I brought all the furniture out on Sunday my guys went to Killington, VT skiing. Apparently they are not done with winter but we certainly are. Earlier in the day I cooked up some eggs and decided to make some potato salad. I had a skirt steak I needed to cook up so dinner was already planned while enjoying my morning tea. I got my skirt steak out onto the counter and went to my computer; before I opened it I actually thought that was ridiculous; why do I need to look up a marinade recipe, I know what I have on hand and what flavors we like. As long as I had the 3 components (acid, oil, spices) needed to marinate my steak I can add whatever other flavors we like.
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My marinade consisted of lemon (acid), olive oil (oil), soy sauce, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper (spices).  I marinated it around 4-5 hours and WOW was it awesome. I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures to share so I made it again during the following week – you’re welcome 🙂
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Flank or Skirt Steak
soy sauce
olive oil
shallots – sliced thin
garlic – miced
lemon – sliced
Kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
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flatten out the steak and score; make a few this slices; against the grain. In a ziploc bag add the rest of the ingredients.  Really no need to measure but for my friends who “need” measurements I will guesstimate.  1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 large or 2-3 small shallots, 2 cloves of garlic, 3-4 slices of lemon, tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper.  Marinate 4-8 hours.
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Best if cooked on a grill – I used my propane grill and cooked on each side for about 5-6 minutes for medium rare – please do not over cook – you won’t enjoy it! Let it rest for 10 minutes or longer if you can wait.  Slice against the grain and enjoy!