April 21, 2014

Blackberry-Apricot Sliced Ham

Hey folks, here's another Easter recipe that's sure to please!  I don't usually incorporate too many sweet flavors when I cook (obviously, due to just about every one of my recipes).  However, while browsing the aisles at ShopRite, I opted for these flavors, and I was pretty excited to get home and make it work.  I wanted to use cherries (not the gross Maraschino cherries, but the cherries with the pits) instead of blackberries, but I couldn't find any, and then I saw the blackberries and figured I could definitely make the swap.  Anywho, read on to find out how to make this great glaze, which you could use for many different things: ice cream topping, waffle topping, mix into yogurt, enjoy on a turkey sandwich, etc.  Let me know how you would use it!

What You'll Need:
  • (1) 3-lb. boneless, fully-cooked ham 
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 12 oz. apricot preserves
  • 12 oz. blackberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of salt

1.  Let the ham come to room temperature, making sure it warms through evenly.  While the ham is sitting, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, apricot preserves, and blackberries and whisk until incorporated.  Add the water, balsamic vinegar, and salt and whisk well until the blackberries start to wilt down.   Turn your burner down to low and simmer for about an hour, or until it reduces by half and becomes thick.

2.  Brush ham with the glaze and transfer to a 325-degree oven.  After about 1 hour, pour about 2/3 of the sauce over the ham and cook for another hour, or until the ham is completely heated through.  Baste the ham occasionally. 

4.  Remove the ham from the oven when the inside temperature is between 150-160 degrees.  Transfer to a cutting board and slice into about 14-16 slices.  Spoon the rest of the glaze over the slices, serve, and enjoy!

April 20, 2014

Garlic-Infused Lamb Chops with Mint Pesto

 I'm back, and with a newfangled kitchen!  Well, kind of.  The kitchen still isn't completed fully, but I got to use it today to cook a large Easter dinner for my family.  Easter 2014 marks the first holiday hosted at my house in Baltimore, and it couldn't have gone better!  I knew I needed to hook them from the start to get them to return annually ;-)

Let's start with the kitchen.  The floor needs to finish being grouted; the light fixture is hanging from the ceiling, not hooked up; I have exposed wires and electrical outlets; the microwave needs to be installed; backsplash hasn't been put in; and the front panel on the fridge is, of course, not working.  Mind you, my kitchen is one strip of wall, about 12 feet altogether, and this has been going on since April 2nd.  But all crap aside, I used the stove, the fridge, and the dishwasher, etc. and it all worked out.  I'll try to stop complaining about it.

Apparently, you'll want this recipe.  According to everyone who had the lamb chops today, they were great, especially with the mint pesto.  Lamb is sometimes served with a mint jelly, and from what I've researched, it's because lamb has such a rich, strong flavor, and the mint balances it out.  If you've heard otherwise, let me know!  Read on to figure out how to recreate this dish!

What You'll Need:
For the lamb
  • 16 lamb chops (I used rib chops, one rib per chop)
  • Kosher salt and cracked pepper
  • Fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 tsp. minced garlic
For the pesto
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 oz. sliced almonds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1.  Start by prepping your lamb chops.  Slice off some of the fat around the outer chop, but not all of it.  Leaving that layer of fat will make your lamb chops a lot more flavorful, and less susceptible to drying out and getting tough.  With a fork, poke the lamb chops about 2 or 3 times, creating holes.  Sprinkle the chops with salt, pepper, rosemary, and smoked paprika.  The reason I didn't add measurements to the spices is because it's generally up to your preference.  The spices will seep into the meat, and when you sear the chops, it forms the outside crust, therefore liberally is always best.    Drizzle the olive oil around the lamb chops, making sure everything is coated.  Dollop each lamb chop with 1/2 tsp. of minced garlic.  I marinated mine overnight, but at least 2-3 hours in the fridge should be okay.  Mine looked like this:

2.  While your chops are marinating, make the mint pesto.  Add all ingredients to a food processor except the olive oil.  Pulse until everything is very finely minced.  Stream in olive oil while processor is running, until pesto is at the consistency you like.  Keep at room temperature.

3.  Brush a non-stick skillet with some olive oil and heat the pan to medium-high heat.  Sear each lamb chop to gain the crust on the outside, about 2 minutes on each side, and transfer to a baking sheet.  Broil on high for about 3-4 minutes, or until the middle is perfectly pink, medium-rare.  Serve either alongside the mint pesto, or drizzle pesto on top of each chop.  Enjoy!

April 1, 2014

Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas with Green Chile Cream Sauce

I'm hoping it won't be too long before I get to post again.  I'm getting a new kitchen in the upcoming weeks, which I believe will leave me with only a refrigerator for the duration.  Hopefully the process will be finished by April 12th, and I'll be able to post from a beautiful, brand new kitchen!  With that being said, I figured I'd go out with a BANG, and share a very fun and flavorful recipe.  Give your everyday enchiladas a huge enhancement by using lump crab meat and fresh shrimp.  But the flavor combination doesn't stop there -- I also included some shiitake mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, green onions, and great seasonings.  Read on to find out what's going on in these Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas!

What You'll Need:
  • 2 tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, diced medium
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (whites and greens) 
  • 6 tbsp. green chiles, finely chopped, divided
  • 3/4 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 lb. fresh lump crab meat
  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. dry white wine
  • 1 medium tomato, diced small
  • 3 cups Monterey Jack cheese
  • 8 multi-grain tortillas, fajita-style size
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and Pepper

1.  In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp. of butter and saute garlic for a minute or two.  Drop in the shiitake mushrooms and half the green onions, cook until soft.  Add 2 tbsp. of the green chiles and all the shrimp to the pan, and saute until the shrimp turns slightly pink.  After that happens, add your crab meat to the pan to marry all flavors.  Zest and juice lemon in the pan and season with 1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Allow all of your components to come together by adding the white wine, and reduce until all the wine is gone (you don't want a soggy filling).  Add diced tomato to the pan and remove from heat.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, put all hot ingredients from pan plus 1 1/2 cups of the Monterey Jack cheese.  Fold together until the cheese melts slightly, trying not to break up the crab lumps.  One-by-one, fill your tortillas and roll.  Place them seam-side down in a baking dish. 

3.  In the same skillet, add heavy cream, 1 cup of cheese, the rest of the green onions, the remaining green chiles, and the rest of the Old Bay seasoning.  Season well with salt and cracked pepper.  Whisk until smooth and pour over the enchiladas.  Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly.  Enjoy!

March 24, 2014

Italian Antipasto Spread

Last weekend, my mom and sister came down to Maryland!  They came to my house in Baltimore, and after about an hour, we piled in the car and drove to Crofton to see a very old and dear friend, Lizzie, and her family, along with our cousin Cara and her family.  As any typical Italian would, I consider Lizzie a cousin.  I've known her since I was a little girl, and even though it's been years since we've seen each other, we seemed to pick up right where we left off.  Liz is a fellow Italian, and when I was deciding what to make to bring down to her house, it seemed only obvious to go with these flavors.  Making an Antipasto Platter was just too ordinary for me, so I figured, why not bring all of those flavors together and create something new?  Voila, an antipasto spread!  Just think of it as a new version of Italian Hummus.  We used sliced baguette to spread this dip over, however, a few days later, I made a panini and slathered some on the inside of the bread before grilling - it was heavenly!  Create this spread for sliced bread, dollop on pizza before it goes into the oven, enjoy on hot and cold sandwiches, and so much more!  Enjoy.

What You'll Need:
  • 1/4 lb. capicola
  • 1/4 lb. salami
  • 1/4 lb. prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/2 cup Spanish olives
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 16 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil
  • 1-2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 8 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  • 16 oz. ricotta cheese

Pretty simple stuff here:  Rough chop all ingredients.  The meat should be at a small dice.  Put first 10 ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until the meat has had a chance to break down, then finish with the processor on the "on" setting, while streaming in good quality extra virgin olive oil.  Add oil until spread has become the consistency you'd like.  In a large mixing bowl, fold together goat cheese and ricotta.  Then, fold all ingredients from processor in with cheese.  Serve with a sliced baguette toasted in the oven!

 And thank you, Carmine's of D.C., for the best lasagna I've ever tasted!

March 20, 2014

Vegetable Cheddar Quinoa

 Gluten-free and meat-free, this dish doesn't need either ingredient to make it shine.  Accompanied by dry white wine, cheddar cheese, and a really good quality Parmigiano Reggiano, this semi-healthy recipe can act as an entree, side dish, or even a quick snack!  Read on to find out how to copy:

What You'll Need:
  • 1 crown broccoli, stems cut
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. good quality Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1.  Start by roasting the broccoli.  Toss broccoli florets, 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, pepper, onion powder, and 1 tbsp. Parmigiano.  Roast in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes, until broccoli is tender. 

2.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and water.  Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer until the quinoa becomes fluffy and water has cooked out.  While the quinoa is cooking, in a large skillet, heat the rest of the olive oil and add garlic, bell pepper and onion.  Season to taste and cook until tender and onions are translucent.  Add tomatoes (I like to add them later so they stay as close to form as possible and they don't become mushy), roasted broccoli from the oven, and white wine.  Simmer until wine reduces.

3.  Finally, add the cooked quinoa to the pan.  Turn off the heat and add 1 cup of cheddar cheese and the rest of the Parmigiano.  Fold cheese through the quinoa, not allowing it to set, or it will clump.  Transfer quinoa to a baking dish.  Sprinkle with the rest of the cheddar cheese and transfer to the oven.  Cook simply until cheese melts and bubbles.  Enjoy!