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Friday, April 29, 2016

Discover Why Champagne Mangoes Makes This Salad Sing

Fresh Assorted Leafy Greens
 Hearts of Palm, Mango and Cashew Salad with Salty Lime Dressing

When Champagne mangoes come into season, I love to prepare this colorful and delicious salad, from my popular cookbook, This Book Cooks. The combination of the sweet mango, crunchy cashews and salty lime dressing make this an impressive and delightfully refreshing dish.
Champagne Mango

⅓ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
6 very generous handfuls of assorted leafy greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 ripe mango, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can (14 ounces) sliced hearts of palm
½ cup roasted cashews

1.      In a 1-cup jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, lime juice and salt. Shake until well blended.
2.      Place lettuce leaves in a large bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat the leaves. Divide lettuce among 6 serving plates.
3.      In a small bowl, combine mango, hearts of palm and cashews and toss with enough dressing to coat the ingredients. Top lettuce leaves with mango mixture, distributing ingredients evenly. Serve immediately.
Hearts of Palm

6 servings

Friday, April 22, 2016

Artichoke Love

Even if I lived in Castroville, California (the self-proclaimed Artichoke Center of the World), I don’t think I’d tire of eating artichokes; they’re at the top of my list of favorite foods. Just the word itself represents all things good to me: my husband’s nickname for his lifelong friend Arthur is ART-tichoke, Marilyn Monroe was the first ever Miss Artichoke and, of course, there was our Norwich terrier/our love, Artichoke. 

Globe Artichokes

Click here  to find out how to prepare 
artichokes, on my YouTube video channel.

4 whole artichokes

1.      Fill a large pot with cold water and bring to a boil.
2.      Wash artichokes by simply running them under water. With a sharp knife, trim stem, leaving a 1-inch stub. Cut off the top ¼ -inch of the artichoke. With scissors, trim the sharp tips off each leaf.
3.      Place artichokes in boiling water, cover and reduce heat to medium (water should be dancing). Cook for about 40–50 minutes or until a fork inserted in the stem goes through easily.
4.      Drain artichokes and place in a casserole dish to accommodate, cover with tight fitting lid and let stand for about 30 minutes. Serve the artichokes warm with melted butter.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Savoring the Season With Creamy Asparagus Soup

Asparagus is considered to be one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence, and when it’s in season, it’s high on my must-have list. So once the spears pop out of the ground, I'm eager to prepare this delicious, creamy springtime favorite.

Creamy Asparagus Soup
Yields: 6 servings

2 pounds fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped white onion
1 cup chopped celery
4 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt

   1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop in asparagus, and  cook until tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside.

   2. In a large pot, melt butter over moderate heat. Add onion and celery, then sauté until tender. Lower heat and add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition. Slowly add chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Turn off heat, cover pot and let stand for about 15–20 minutes.

   3.Transfer cooked asparagus to a food processor or blender and pulse a few times. Add chicken broth mixture and purée until smooth. Add milk and salt and pulse until well blended. Return to large pot and simmer until heated through. Serve immediately.                                                                                                                         

Friday, April 8, 2016

Why It's So Easy To Love Rhubarb

My parents and grandparents ate according to the seasons, a practice I fully endorse and one I do my best to sustain. But adhering to this can be challenging because restaurants and grocery stores make it ridiculously simple to sway away from eating seasonal foods by serving and providing fruits that are available year round. In fact produce departments in most grocery stores look the same day after day, month after month. A few foods have managed to stay out of the year round mainstream because consumers haven’t demanded them. Rhubarb falls into this category and is one of the few vegetables that grocery stores don’t sell 12 months of the year.

Rhubarb makes a brief debut in spring. This vegetable typically shows up in desserts because to make rhubarb palatable it needs the help of a sweetener. Aficionados of rhubarb make pies, cobblers, cakes, slumps, puddings, jams and chutneys. 

Rhubarb looks like a large pinkish-red version of the pale green celery stalk, except it stands about a foot and a half long. Choose firm, crisp, plump stalks. Kept in the refrigerator in a vegetable bag, rhubarb will last for about a week. Both raw and cooked rhubarb freeze with great results. To prepare, remove poisonous leaves, wash and trim both ends of the stalks, prepare according to recipe directions. Rhubarb is high in fiber and very low in calories, about 20 calories per cup.

I had to hide this cake from my husband after he went for a third helping. It is extraordinarily moist and if I hadn’t been the person assembling the ingredients, I would never guess rhubarb was one of the primary ingredients.

Rhubarb Cake with Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Walnut Topping

2 cups all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups (about ½ pound) rhubarb, finely diced
½ cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1½ teaspoons cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350. 
  2. Lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. 
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter with white and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until slightly fluffy. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beat until well combined. Fold in rhubarb. 
  5. Transfer batter to baking pan, spreading evenly. 
  6. In a small bowl, toss walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Distribute topping evenly over cake and bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
Yield: About 15 servings

Friday, April 1, 2016

Moist Coconut Lime Cake Will Keep Them Coming Back For More

             Coconut Lime Cake

A bag of limes intended for something else prompted this recipe for a delicious and incredibly moist cake that tastes like it was made with butter and not the neutral oil that’s used. This cake is moist beyond belief.

1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
¾ cup neutral oil
½ cup fresh lime juice
2 cups sugar
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup fresh lime juice
7 ounces sweetened coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. 
  2. In a large pot over moderately high heat, whisk together coconut milk, ¾ cup canola oil and lime juice. Heat until mixture is hot to the touch, remove from heat, then stir in sugar. Whisk in flour ½ cup at a time. Add eggs one at a time, whisk until fully blended, then add baking soda.
  3. Pour cake batter into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 
  4. Let cake cool for about 20 minutes before icing. 
  5. In a small bowl, combine confectionerssugar with lime juice and whisk until smooth. Whisk in 1 cup of coconut. Spread icing evenly over top of cake and top icing with remaining coconut.

12 servings