The E.V T.V Show

…the food I make, the plants I grow, and the items I create.


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Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Tarragon Dressing

I have a revolving front door. People come and go regularly. And when they come, they come hungry. To stay ahead of the game, I prepare a few salads that can either be eaten as a side dish or by themselves.

tarragon tomato salad with fields of fire

Preparing these salads in the beginning of the week, gives me versatility when it comes to feeding others as well as myself. As I dash around the house in the morning, it takes only a few additional moments to pack my lunch.

tarragon tomato salad with new jersey blush wine

This salad uses tarragon, an herb that I rarely cook with. Tarragon tastes similar to anise or black licorice with the essence of sweetness. I enjoyed this for lunch and then decided to take it on a picnic – what a hit!

tarragon tomato salad with new jersey blush wine

GREEN BEAN AND TOMATO SALAD WITH TARRAGON DRESSING

total time: 30 minutes    yield: 4 servings

ingredients

  • 2 lbs green beans (mixed colors if you can) trimmed and cut diagonally into bite size pieces
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 2 tbsp chopped tarragon
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

 directions

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the beans until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the beans and spread them on a large baking sheet to cool. Pat dry.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the shallots and tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Place the beans and tomatoes in a large bowl, add the dressing and toss well. Transfer to a platter and serve.


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Marinated Eggplant Sandwich with Mozzarella and Soppressata

This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Italy. Everything about Italy was fantastic; the scenery, the wine, the food…and the sandwiches were the best. Freshly-baked bread layered with honest, real ingredients.

Marinated Eggplant Sandwich

Often wrapped in butcher paper and served with a light drizzle of olive oil and vinegar – no soggy bread. These grab-and-go sandwiches became our staple lunch.

Marinated Eggplant Sandwich

Reminiscing about picnic lunches in Italy, I decided to whip up a batch of these at home this weekend. They were simple and flavorful. The perfect combination. I can’t wait for warmer weather and a blanket under a maple tree.

MARINATED EGGPLANT SANDWICH WITH SOPPRESSATA AND MOZZARELLA

total time ~30 min       yield: 2 sandwiches 

ingredients  

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 sandwich rolls or bread of your choice
  • 1 jar (8 oz) roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry, and halved
  • 1 jar (8 oz) marinated eggplant, drained, patted dry, and halved
  • 6 slices of fresh mozzarella
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced soppressata
  • 1 cup of arugula
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the rolls in half and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Bake until lightly toasted. Let bread cool.
  2. On one half of the roll, layer soppressata, mozzarella, eggplant, roasted red peppers, and arugula.
  3. Drizzle balsamic vinegar on the other half of the roll.
  4. Place sides together and cut roll in half. Enjoy!


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Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa Tabbouleh

I find eating local seasonal food to be a fun challenge. The summer is filled with fresh ingredients that inspire me to explore new recipes. The winter presents its own obstacle; keeping meals interesting with a limited ingredient list.

These past months, however, have felt long and more difficult than fun.  So, I decided to cheat and sneak a little green into my diet.

Tabbouleh with Fresh Herbs

Tabbouleh with Fresh Herbs

These light salads, filled with complex grains, beans, fresh herbs, and raw vegetables have become my lifeline. I eat heaping mounds on top of simple greens to balance the acorn squash soup or beef stew.

My tabbouleh salad tends to packs a punch. I am pretty heavy handed with the  amount of garlic and lemon juice/zest I use. Modify the recipe if you like a milder or wilder salad.

Use fresh lemon juice and garlic for extra flavor

Use fresh lemon juice and garlic for extra flavor

 

ingredients

total time: 30 mins    yield: 6 servings
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1 cup of dry quinoa
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
  • ⅔ cup of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup of chopped mint
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

directions

  • cook quinoa – bring quinoa, ¼ tsp salt, and 1 ¼ cup of water to a boil over medium high heat to a boil. Lower heat to low and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cook.
  • Meanwhile chop the vegetables and herbs and add to a medium mixing bowl.
  • When the quinoa is cooled add it to the mixing bowl.
  • Combine lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Whisk until the olive oil is fully incorporated.
  • Pour dressing over the salad and mix well.
  • Store in a airtight container in the fridge. The longer the salad sits, the better the flavors will be!

 

 


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How to Make the Perfect Bechamel Sauce

Dress your favorite veggies in a bechamel sauce for added flavor and fun!

Dress your favorite veggies in a bechamel sauce for added flavor and fun!

A bechamel sauce, or white sauce, is the base to a fair number of delectable creamy dishes and once mastered, there is no stopping you! Add freshly grated cheese and turn your bechamel sauce into a mornay sauce, which can be used in a homemade macaroni and cheese or drizzle on top of broccoli for a kid friendly parent approved side dish.

Learning how to make a bechamel sauce was one of my greatest culinary feats.

At first I was so intimidated. While frantically stirring and juggling the flour, the pan, the whisk, the… I felt as if I either needed a third arm or for the whole process to slow down. To top it off, the recipes were all so precise, which can be challenging when you are a cook and not a baker. What is a measuring cup?

But with a little bit of practice, I mastered my own rhythm and you can too – I promise it is not that hard!  Below I will share with you a few of my secrets on how to make a perfect bechamel sauce every time.

I love making and eating this sauce almost as much as I love saying it. BEH shah mell Cooking is about feeding the body and the soul. It has to be fun.

 

BECHAMEL SAUCE

Total Time: ~15 minutes   Yield: 1 cup

ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of mustard powder
  • 1 tsp of horseradish
  • 1 cup of milk at room temperature
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Required Cooking Tools:  1 medium sauce pan, a whisk, a fine mesh colander

As you play around with the methods and the recipe you may find you prefer using different tools.

directions

  • To make a bechamel sauce, you begin by making a roux. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Melt butter of medium heat.

Melt butter of medium heat.

  • While the butter is melting, over a bowl to minimize mess, place one tablespoon of flour  into the fine mesh colander. You will lose some to the bowl, but that is okay.
  • Once the butter is melted, bring the colander to the pan and tap it a few times – try and cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer of flour. This method evenly distributes the flour and breaks apart clumps.
Use a fine-mesh colander to sift flour.

Use a fine-mesh colander to sift flour.

  • Return the colander back in the bowl and whisk the flour and butter together . Repeat this until there is no more flour in the colander and the flour butter mixture in the pan has created a solid mass. If you need to add more or less flour.
Allow the roux to toast - creating a nutty flavor.

Allow the roux to toast – creating a nutty flavor.

  • Let the roux toast for a minute or until golden brown.  Now it is time to make the bechamel sauce.
  • Add two tablespoons of milk to the pan and whisk. The flour will initially absorb the milk and do the opposite of what you are expecting – that is okay. Add another two tablespoons and whisk again.
Slowly add the milk and whisk!

Slowly add the milk and whisk!

  • You should begin to see the roux thinning. Continue to do this until the roux has been dissolved into the milk. Now you can add the rest of the milk.
  • Let it simmer for a minute, stir.
  • Add in the mustard powder, horseradish, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • If you want to make a mornay, or cheese sauce, now is when you can add the cheese. Cook until cheese is melted. Enjoy!


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An Ode to Cranberries – Mother Nature’s Super Food

Homemade Cranberry Relish

Homemade Cranberry Relish

Raw homemade cranberry relish is one of my favorite side dishes. Every year for Thanksgiving, there are heaping bowls on every corner of the table. The cranberry’s natural acidity along with the orange juice will brighten up almost any meal.

Grate fresh orange zest for this recipe!

Fresh orange zest and juice

I love this recipe so much, I make it throughout the year since it is fantastic along side most poultry or pork dishes. The orange juice adds wonderful flavor while the sugar balances the natural tartness and thickens the juice, binding together the ingredients.

Tidbit: Stock up on cranberries while they are season and store them in your freezer.

Cranberries, one of mother nature’s super foods, are an excellent source of Vitamin C and E – boosting both the immune and the urinary system. They are also high in Vitamin K and fiber – protecting the body against free radicals and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Use fresh or thawed cranberries.

Use fresh or thawed cranberries.

Fun Fact: Cranberries scientific name is Vaccinium macrocarpon sharing the same genus, Vaccinium, as blueberries – another one of mother nature’s super foods

Cranberry relish is perfect along side chicken and pork dishes.

Cranberry relish is perfect along side chicken and pork dishes.

 

Do you have a favorite cranberry recipe? Do you like to put them in muffins or pancakes? Dried cranberries make an excellent addition to trail mix or granola. Share below!

Cranberry Relish

Prep time: ~15 minutes Serving Size: 1.5 cups

ingredients

  • 1 bag of cranberries
  • 1 orange juiced and zested
  • ½ – 1 cup of sugar

 Easy to remember and easy to scale 1:1:1

 directions

  • Rinse the cranberries under cold water.
  • Place the cranberries in a blender or food processor along with the zest and juice of one orange.
  • Add about half of the sugar and pulse – be mindful not to over pulse.
  • Once it is at your desired consistency – taste and add sugar accordingly.
  • Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight to intensify the flavors.
  • Serve alongside your favorite poultry or pork dish!


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Dad’s Favorite Lemon Meringue Pie

My father and I love lemon meringue pie. There is just something about the tangy sweetness that get’s us every time. At the end of a heavy meal, this light refreshing dessert acts as a palate cleanser. Served along side a shot of espresso, I am revived and ready to concur the dishes! A few years ago, I began to bake this dessert for holiday parties. I enjoy offering this as a low calorie alternative at the dessert table.Did you know that a 1 oz slice of pie is about 80 calories! Do you offer a unique dessert at your holiday parties? Share below!!

ingredients 

Yield: 1 nine inch pie          Total Time: ~3 hrs, includes some cooling time
  •  1 graham cracker pie crust
Lemon Filling
  • 4 egg yolks – save the whites for the meringue
  • 3 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups of fine sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Meringue
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp fine sugar

directions

Lemon Filling 
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine 1 cup of sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk together.
  • Add water, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract
  • Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture, also known as curd, comes to a boil. Stir constantly!
  • Stir in butter.
  • Add the egg yolks to a separate bowl and slowly whisk in the sugar mixture. Once you have added about half of the sugar mixture to the egg yolks, return the contents of the bowl to the sauce pan. Reduce heat to low
  • Cook the curd on low until it is nice and thick – depending on your stove top and preferences this can take up to 15 minutes. Make sure your stove top is set to low. If you need to, add a heat diffuser to reduce heat.
  • Once the mixture is thick enough, pour it into the pie shell.
  • Cover the entire filling with meringue – taking care to seal the edges. See below for meringue instructions.
  • Place in on a rack in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes or until pie is golden brown.
  • Allow the pie to cool for 2 hours, or until you can comfortably touch the underside of the pie pan.
For the Meringue
  • Using either a hand held mixer or a stand mixer, begin to beat your egg whites on low. Gradually increase the speed and beat on high for 2 minutes.
  • Add the cream of tartar and vanilla extract
  • Beat for another minute
  • Gradually add the sugar and beat for until you have stiff peaks. Check every few minutes – you do not want to over beat!
  • To test your peaks, turn your whisk upside down. The meringue should cling to the whisk and hold their peak without collapsing.


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Chocolate Lava Cake: My Go-To Dessert Recipe

plated cake

Chocolate Lava Cake

This past weekend, we had a few big celebrations in our house. As I felt the tingling urge to indulge in good cheer – I realized I had only a a few moments to whip something up.

I am not always the best at planning ahead.

So I defaulted, as usual, to my go-to dessert recipe – Chocolate Lava Cake.

This recipe calls for ingredients I generally keep on hand and is delicious.

Doll them up with fresh fruit, fruit compote, or home-made whipped cream. For an extra special treat, pair this dessert with a delicious local Port.

ingredients

Yield: 2-3 cakes      Time: ~35 min
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for muffin tin
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for muffin tin and serving
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • 1 ounce semisweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 ounce bittersweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • nonstick spray

directions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray your muffin tin with a nonstick spray, such as PAM.
  • Dust the muffin tin with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder.
  • Place the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 20-second increments. Use a whisk or fork to stir after each increment.
  • While the butter and chocolate is melting, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, sugar, espresso powder, and salt. Once the chocolate mixture is melted whisk it into the egg mixture to combine. Add flour, and whisk just until combined – take care to not overmix.
  • Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. Make sure you fill the empty muffin tins with water so that your lava cakes cook evenly.
  • Bake until the top has just set and a toothpick inserted in center comes out wet, 5-6 minutes. It is better to under-bake than over-bake!
  • Cool cakes for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Use a knife to loosen the cakes and serve inverted immediately top with Raspberry Mint Compote.