Simple Spring Salad for Four (with 4 special ingredients)

We had some people over for dinner and a movie. We started with icy chardonnay and the garden-fresh salad above. We also served warm mini corn tortillas, salsa and sour cream, if anyone wanted to make a taco. Next, a new recipe for chicken casserole, that I’m working on. Cake and dates for dessert. The movie was, Phantom Thread, recently nominated for an Oscar and starring the great actor, Daniel Day-Lewis. We all recommend the movie. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Ingredients

 

Mini Corn tortillas, warm just before serving

3 hard-boiled eggs, use the white only

2 avocados

2 large ripe tomato

2 Tablespoons black beans, from can

2, 3 or 4 Tablespoons yellow corn kernels

1 orange Bell pepper, seeds removed, chopped

4 Tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil

Zest of 1 fresh lemon

2 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 fresh garlic cloves, mashed with 3 anchovies

2 pinches chili flakes (optional)

2 pinches black pepper

A few leaves of kale, baby spinach, or arugula, for crisp texture. Wash, dry and break into small pieces.

1/2 to 1 sheet of Nori, crushed in your fist, then sprinkled over the salad.

 

If you don’t have fresh corn in your neighborhood, use frozen corn kernels instead. Let them thaw, squeeze them a little in paper towel, so they don’t add water to the salad. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Chef’s note: As you are aware, the CDC has put out a strong warning not to buy romaine lettuce wrapped in plastic, (and raised in Arizona) because quite a few people have become very sick after eating romaine tainted with E. coli. Although, we’ve made this salad many times, the first time using romaine, we did take care to use romaine from Whole Foods, with fresh leaves and not contained in plastic. We also checked with the veggie manager re the CDC warning. However, since that first time, we have only used fresh arugula and baby spinach in this salad recipe. The recipe is equally delicious with a few leaves of other greens, as well as Nori seaweed, which is loaded with umami, our fifth flavor sense. In case you haven’t tried it, Nori is a wonderful topping for many recipes, as well as being extremely healthy. This wrapping of delicious sushi rolls can be bought in flat sheets. The way we use it at home is beyond easy. Just take as much as you need, then crunch up in your fist and sprinkle the Nori over practically everything. I use it over salads, over casseroles, over cauliflower mashed “potatoes,“ and much more. Now, that you’ve read today’s Quiz and know how healthy (low-cal) Nori is, go for it. Nori is very tasty (umami) as well as healthy for your biome.

 

Chef update: As of Thursday 17 May 2018, FDA has given the “okay“ to dine on romaine lettuce; joyful news for everyone who loves Caesar salad.

 

Directions

1. Have a salad bowl ready.

2. Take eggs out of fridge and let them reach room temperature before you boil them for 8 minutes, then put immediately into ice water. Remove and shell. Then remove yolks and use for another recipe. Chop the white part and set aside. This is one of the special ingredients, not usually found in a salad.

3. Scrape the kernels off the corn cob.

 

Lucky to have a neighborhood store that purchases from local farmers. New York City is known for its many locations where local farmers come into the city and sell their produce directly to the consumer and/or restaurant chef. One such location is Union Square in Manhattan. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

4. Get out a mortar and pestle and mash the garlic and anchovies until you get a paste. Set aside. These are two of the special ingredients, not usually found in a salad. This is the umami part, the anchovies, that is. I have started to use anchovy fillets, in place of salt, in my recipes, when possible. When a few anchovy fillets are mashed and used in a recipe, the result is that umami deeper flavor. There is no fishy taste, in any recipe, after using mashed anchovy fillets; plus there is omega 3.

 

I used to think that anyone with a mortar & pestle, was a highly sophisticated chef. But now I know that it makes sense for anyone in the kitchen to have this item, simply because it makes mashing something like the garlic and anchovies (above) easier. Its small size makes it a cinch to break up things like fennel seeds (not in this recipe). I got mine at Amazon where the price is right, and the choices are many. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Draining the black beans, after rinsing them. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

5. Add the zest and the fresh lemon juice, olive oil and the mashed garlic with anchovy and mix the dressing together until it becomes smooth.

6. Remove yolk from hard-boiled egg, chop the white and put in salad bowl.

 

Chopping egg whites and tomatoes at the same time. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

  

7. Cut up the avocado and put in salad bowl

8. Chop the tomato and put in salad bowl

9. Add the black beans and corn

10. Add the orange chopped pepper

 

Chopping the orange pepper. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

11.  Add the green leaf pieces

12. Toss everything together and enjoy

13. For variation, you can spoon the salad onto a corn tortilla and eat it that way.

14. Sprinkle with crushed Nori (this is the 4th special umami ingredient)

 

Warm corn taco, good any time, but especially good in hot summer months when you don’t want meals too complicated. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Although, we did manage to serve Pouilly-Fuisse when relatives came over for dinner, we’re still enjoying our recent discovery of The Vice, a delicious chardonnay, brought to us by a dinner guest. Did I say, the price is astoundingly, right? ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This weekend, we raise our glasses in a toast to the FDA and the CDC, for keeping our food safe! Funded by tax payer dollars, these agencies are a part of our historically rich Democracy and we salute them!

 

 

Have a great week everyone!

 

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

 

Hollandaise Sauce with a Zillion Uses

Delicious, easy and just right with tender Spring asparagus, which is still at its peak. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Serve tender stalks in a crepe or on a pancake with yummy Hollandaise. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

Or 

Asparagus with Smoked Salmon, Poached Egg, Hollandaise Sauce

This was a tasty lunch last week. It could easily be Sunday brunch or a wonderful appetizer with a chilled glass of white wine. Here, smoked salmon was wrapped around each asparagus stalk. A poached egg was placed on top of the stalks; then the hollandaise sauce was carefully spooned over the egg. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Here is an appetizer, where the effort of wrapping the salmon around each stalk was avoided. Fresh smoked salmon was placed on the plate, followed by two tender stalks of asparagus that had been sauteed for one minute. Next, a poached egg, drizzled with freshly made hollandaise sauce. This was so delicious, that instead of an entree, more appetizers were quickly assembled. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Here’s what this recipe looks like, a few minutes after serving. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Of course, there’re always variations on Eggs Benedict to try out with the hollandaise.

 

Ingredients

4 egg yolks

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 stick of unsalted butter, melted

Pinch chili flakes

Pinch salt

 

This is an easy recipe to shop for. Tender local asparagus is everywhere. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

  

Directions

1. Melt the butter in a small pan over lowest heat, then set aside

 

I’ve had this little pan for many years; it’s perfect for many things. Here, for melting butter. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

2. Squeeze the lemon juice, so it’ll be ready when you need it.

 

Use a lemon squeezer that catches the pits and squeeze the juice into a small cup. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

3. If you don’t have a double boiler, use a steel bowl.

4. Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl. Keep whisking until you feel like your arm will fall off, or until the mixture is thickened and still has become twice as much liquid. It could take 5 minutes.

 

Here is what the consistency should look like. And, yes, your arm will feel a temporary ache. (sorry) ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

5. If you don’t have a double boiler, find just the right size saucepan, add water to the bottom of this pan. On low heat, bring the water to a simmer. If you do have a double boiler, then do all the egg yolk whisking in the top of the double boiler.

6. Now, place the mixing bowl with egg & lemon, over the saucepan with simmering water. The trick here, is do NOT let the simmering water touch the bottom of the bowl, or the eggs will cook more than you want them to and you will have to start all over again. You do NOT want little particles of cooked egg floating in this sauce, or all your time will have been wasted.

7. Continue to whisk rapidly. And continue to watch that the eggs do not get too hot or you will have scrambled eggs and not a sauce.

8. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. You do NOT want the heat from the melted butter to cook the eggs in any way. That’s why you must add the melted butter in a very slow trickle.

9. Remove from heat, whisk in chili flakes and salt.

10. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the asparagus and eggs. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

 

If you don’t have an egg poacher, fill a small saucepan with water and add a small glug of white vinegar or apple vinegar to the water. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

  

11. Swirl the water & vinegar around and bring it to a simmer.

12. Break an egg into a small cup, to be sure that the yolk will not be broken before you add it to the pan.

13. Then, carefully slip the egg into the simmering water.

14. Keep your eye on the yolk. In about 2 or 3 minutes the egg will be done, with a semi-soft yolk.

15. If you like a more runny yolk, keep it in the simmering water for 1.5 to 2 minutes.

 

Have ready and next to the stove, the plate with asparagus and/or asparagus with smoked salmon. With a slotted spoon, remove the poached egg, when done. Allow the water to drip from the spoon, before you place the egg over the asparagus or over the smoked salmon. After placing the egg, have the hollandaise ready to spoon over the food you’ve prepared, then serve immediately.

 

The only limit to the use of Hollandaise Sauce, is your own creativity.

  1. Consider serving hollandaise over broccoli sauteed with sliced garlic; or spinach.
  2. Serve hollandaise over any fish cooked the way you like it.
  3. Serve a poached egg on avocado toast, then spoon some hollandaise over this yummy combo.
  4. Serve shrimp over saffron rice and hollandaise over this dish.Etc. Etc. Etc.

 

Hundreds of options for eggs and hollandaise sauce; veggies and hollandaise, etc.

On a medium size plate, place one pancake. On top of the pancake, put two or three big whole asparagus. Over the asparagus add one or two poached eggs. On one side of the asparagus pancake, put a turkey sausage or regular sausage (optional). Over the top of the egg, spoon the Hollandaise Sauce.

 

Springtime and Stag’s Leap Cellars, go together. Chilled, light but distinctive, this sauvignon blanc went well with all the uses of hollandaise, on this recipe page. The recent Napa Valley fires came very close to this vineyard, which is one of our favorites. Here’s hoping there was minimal to no damage. We’ll drink to that. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

We saw our last opera for the season, Romeo and Juliet conducted by Placido Domingo. We were in tears when the curtain dropped on the last act.

 

Have a great week everyone!

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

 

Refreshing Leafy Salad with Melon, Pistachios, Cheese, Cranberries and a Light Citrus Garlic Dressing

A Perfect Summer Salad!  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Salad Ingredients

 

2 cups, assorted baby lettuce, shredded, approximately 5-6 ounces

2 cups, baby spinach, shredded

2 small to medium cucumbers, peeled

1/2 cup very fresh mozzarella, cubed

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup pistachios

1/4 of a melon (you decide), cut bite-size

 

Dressing Ingredients

2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 or 2 fresh garlic cloves, squeezed

Juice from 1/2 of an Orange

Juice from 1/2 of a Lemon

Pinch salt

Pinch black pepper

Pinch chili flakes

 

Fresh summer ingredients.  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Ingredients getting cut up. Notice how little dressing is needed. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Make enough; this salad will go fast!  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This meal was a delicious low calorie comfort food fest with some of our favorite dishes. First we clinked our glasses of chilled Vice chardonnay, just because we were enjoying being lazy, this weekend.

 

The recipe above was the first course and a delicious change from our usual tomato/avocado salad. Then we had eggplant parmesan, a recipe that was shared on this newsletter, long ago. Easy to prepare, simple but good, baked garlic-y mini red potatoes. For dessert, home-made black bean brownies with cool whip on top.

 

A treat for New Yorkers was not only a second Tosca at the MetOpera, but the amazingly beautiful voice of soprano Anna Netrebko, singing with her husband, Azerbaijani tenor Yusif Eyvazov.

 

Below is Netrebko singing one of the most sublime arias ever written.  Each time I hear it, I tear up. I’ve heard all the great sopranos sing Vissi d’Arte and IMO, this is the best recording.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnMMXfr8FZc

Anna Netrebko – Vissi d’arte (Tosca, Act 2) by Giocomo Puccini

 

This long weekend was good for us and we hope for you also.

 

Icy Stag’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc   ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

From Our Table to Yours!

Bon Appetit!

 

Curried Lamb with Peppers, Tomatoes, Almonds, Golden Raisins

Curried Lamb served over my recipe for saffron rice. Jules gives this recipe five stars. He’s been eating it all weekend. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Here’s the same curried lamb served over my recipe for carrot pancakes, from last week, with a dollop of mango chutney on the side. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

 

Ingredients

 

1/4 cup flour

Pinch Kosher salt

Pinch black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 Tablespoons butter

1.5 pounds choice lamb kabob pieces

4 slices Turkey bacon, well chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 scallions, chopped

3 shallots, chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and diced

1 yellow pepper, seeded, then diced

1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped well

1 cup fresh cilantro, well chopped

2 ribs celery, diced

25 fresh garlic cloves, sliced

2 Tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon coriander

3 Tablespoons golden raisins +extra for topping

1 28-ounce can Cento tomatoes chopped and their juices

3 Tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted +extra for topping

 

Serve over cooked quinoa, my carrot pancake recipe, noodles, my saffron rice recipe, regular basmati white rice, etc.

 

 

Directions

1. Do all the cutting, slicing chopping, before you do anything else.

Chop everything at the same time on the same cutting board.

©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Chop the peppers. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Chopping the turkey bacon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc .

 

2. Toast the almond slivers.

 

3. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, black pepper and thyme

4. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat until it foams.

 

5. Dredge the lamb pieces in the flour mixture, and fry, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Put lamb on a plate and set aside.

Cut lamb into bite size pieces and dredge in the flour mixture; then brown in a skillet and set aside. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

After browning the lamb, you might want to set it aside in a small bowl lined with paper towel, just to catch the excess oil; or you might not want to catch the excess oil, for the sake of adding the oil later for extra flavor. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

 

6. Over medium heat, cook the turkey bacon, until it gets crisp and with a slotted spoon, remove turkey bacon to a plate and set aside.

Cook the turkey bacon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

7. Using the baking dish you plan to bring to the table later, add butter, then the onion, pepper, celery, garlic, curry powder and half the golden raisins, and saut? over medium heat until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes.

Cooking veggies in melted butter, in the baking/serving dish. Use a baking dish with a cover. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

8. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stirring in the tomatoes. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

10. Next, add the lamb on top of the tomatoes.

11.   Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for 15 minutes more.

 

Going into oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Just out of the oven and uncovered. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

12. Add the toasted slivered almonds and the golden raisins as garnish, just before serving. Have mango chutney on the table, or your choice.

Just added garnish of toasted almonds and golden raisins. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Decidedly delicious! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This makes a great dish for a dinner party. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

We started dinner with a glass of shiraz and a crisp refreshing salad with baby spinach, arugula, endive, a few thin pieces of radicchio, sliced radishes and fresh local Spring asparagus. Simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and anchovies mashed with garlic. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

One of our favorite reds was given to us by a dinner guest; it’s Henschke Shiraz from a vineyard in southern Australia. We’ve been drinking it ever since. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Have a great week everyone!

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

 

Carrot Cinnamon Pancakes with Halvah, Honey and Tahini

We have house guests and I wanted to create something eye catching for lunch or dinner. My favorite color, orange, came to mind, but I’d already done two recipes using Cara Cara oranges. Next, I thought of carrots; not exactly a Spring veggie, but the thought lingered and moved on to carrot pancakes with or without fish or seafood on top. The gears were turning. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Ingredients 

Pancake mix, follow directions on box

5 or 6 carrots, grated

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon tahini (stir the tahini very well before using)

1 Tablespoon vanilla halva

Pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated

1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

 

Just a few easy ingredients to shop for  except, I had some trouble finding the vanilla halvah. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Here’s the Joyva Vanilla Halvah, 16 oz. that I bought on Amazon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Directions

1.   Shred the carrots

Shredding the carrots. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

2.     Mix the batter first

Stirring the batter. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

3.     Add the shredded carrots and stir into the batter

Grated carrots added to batter, while stirring. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

4.     Slowly, add all the other ingredients, stirring as you add

Finalizing the batter, while stirring. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

5.     Fry the pancakes

Because the yield on this recipe is about 6 pancakes of the above size, I decided to use my small frypan, because it was just the size I wanted the pancakes to be, hence, not much measuring to do. I would say a soup ladle of batter would be a good measure for 6 pancakes. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

I wanted the carrot pancakes to be a side dish, but they turned out so well, you could serve as is after cooking with a little butter on top, or honey or yogurt, then honey; use your imagination. This first batch disappeared so quickly as lunch and snacks, that I moved on to another idea. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Here, dinner was fish on carrot pancake with a delicious sauce, created with versatility in mind (good with or without the fish). I wanted a very delicate white fish like sole, but couldn’t find really fresh sole in my neighborhood, so I settled for halibut, which was wonderful. I would still opt for the sole (Dover or lemon), simply because it’s so light and flaky. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Topping for Carrot Pancakes (optional)

 

Ingredients

1 cup sour cream

2 cooked carrots (save 1/2 cooked carrot for garnish)

1 fresh garlic clove

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 and 1/2 Tablespoon golden raisins, mixed

1 and 1/2 Tablespoon golden raisins, well chopped for garnish

3 Tablespoons almond slivers, toasted (1/2 for mixture, 1/2 for garnish)

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, toasted with the almonds

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice

2 or 3 Tablespoons honey (add honey last, & taste to see if more honey is needed; if so, add more)

 

Directions

1.              First toast the black sesame seeds alone, .and remove from pan. Put all into food processor.

2.              Next, toast all the almond slivers, remove from heat when done and divide in half. Set aside half the toasted almonds (for garnish( and put the other half in the food processor.

3.              Chop well, 1.5 Tablespoons golden raisins and set aside for garnish.

4.              Put the other 1.5 Tablespoons golden raisins into the food processor.

5.              Put all ingredients in food processor and pulse until everything is combined well.

6.              With a spatula, scrape every bit of this topping out of the food processor and into a small bowl, to be used for the carrot pancakes.

 

We started dinner with a light garden salad. The halibut served over carrot pancake with luscious sauce topped with toasted almond slivers, golden raisins and a few currants was a different “look“ for dinner and well received by all; rave reviews, in fact. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

I made enough sauce and fish, that the next day, I was able to make little appetizers out of a tiny mound of halibut, topped with the sauce, then garnished with toasted almonds, golden raisins and an orange reminder of the carrots because all the carrot pancakes were gone. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Who says anyone has to drink wine, except when they feel like it there are many times, when all we want is a long drink of refreshing cold water. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This weekend we took our guests out to the theater and then to The Minetta Tavern, in the Village, for dinner.

 

Have a great week everyone!

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

 

Fifteenth Century Sephardic Sweetness

Although this week’s recipe has been adapted from a 15th Century Sephardic one, if’s so overwhelmingly flavorful, it has evolved to take its place on any holiday table, or any table, any day, for that matter. We really hope you will give it a try. This concoction will not disappoint. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Ingredients

2 cups Spanish Marcona blanched almonds, plus about 30 extra Marcona almonds for decoration

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

White chocolate blocks

Blue sprinkles (decoration)

Blue dark chocolate bits (decoration), or

Blue coated almonds (for decoration) or

Blue marzipan, for decoration

 

Basically a 5-ingredient recipe, not counting the decorations. It couldn’t be any easier. Isn’t chemistry wonderful! It’s unbelievable that these little taste treats are so delicious with so little effort! Of course, in the 15th Century there were none of the kitchen conveniences we have now. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Directions

1.     Zest the lemon

 

Zest the lemon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

2. Measure out the sugar and the almonds.

3. Using a food processor equipped with a metal blade, grind 2 cups almonds extremely well; until they begin to resemble almond flour.

4. Add 3/4 cup sugar, the egg and lemon zest, and pulse until the mixture begins to resemble dough, that you will be able to roll in your hands later.

5. Put the dough in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

 

The almonds have been ground down to a rough flour ( they will continue to be ground down) and now the sugar is added to the food processor, for more grinding. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Now adding the egg and the lemon zest, for more grinding. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This dough will be covered with saran wrap and refrigerated overnight. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

8. Grate or shred the white chocolate into a small bowl.

 

Most good markets, like Whole Foods or Fairway, sell blocks of white and dark chocolate. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Do-it-yourself, shredded white chocolate. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc. 

 

9. Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.

10. Pinching off pieces of dough about the size of a walnut, roll them first into balls, then into sugar. Only roll in sugar, the cakes that will not be dipped in white chocolate. Also, plan ahead. Don’t put an almond into the center of cakes that will later, be dipped into chocolate.

11. For plain cakes without chocolate, slowly press a whole almond, half-way into the center of each cake. On a baking sheet, place cakes one inch apart.

 

Roll the dough into small balls, the size of a walnut. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

12. Bake until cookies have barest hint of color but still remain soft, 8 to 10 minutes. (Cookies must be soft when removed from oven to avoid excess hardening when they cool.)

13. Cool completely, and store in an airtight container.

 

Going into the oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Out of the oven, here’s a different batch, some baked with a whole almond and some without. The ones without an almond, will be dipped, after cooling completely, into melted white chocolate. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

For variation, consider dipping all or some of these little cakes into white (or dark) chocolate, melted in a small frying pan over very low heat. For dipping, try using a combination of tongs to dip with, then transfer from tongs to a tablespoon or larger spoon. Push from the spoon, onto a plate or on parchment, to let them harden. While the chocolate is still soft, dust with a scant sprinkling of blue sugar then the tiny blue covered chocolate decoration or blue candied almond, or blue marzipan ball.

 

Over low heat, melt the white chocolate, for dipping. © Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Parchment is so convenient to keep in the kitchen all the time. In this recipe it was used for baking, cooling and finally for cakes that were dipped, then put back on the same baking parchment, to harden and to decorate. Then you just throw it away, after putting the cakes on a serving platter. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

I bought the blue sugar granules from Nuts.com. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

They taste as good as they look.  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

A beautiful holiday presentation.  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

One of the first experiments, gone the next day.  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Beautiful holidays celebrated at the same time. We hope everyone is having a joyous and flavorful weekend. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Have a great week everyone!

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

Tofu with Butternut Squash Noodles, Kale, Black Beans & Peanut Sauce

It’s taken a long time to really enjoy tofu, but finally, we’re converts. Tofu should never be thought of as a meat or poultry substitute. It stands on its own. If cooked correctly and creatively it’s really delicious. And, like anything else, a good sauce enhances. I’ve been experimenting for a long time, and finally have created two tofu recipes that can be shared. This is the first. ©Joyce Hays

 

Tofu & Veggie Ingredients

1 red onion, chopped

10 garlic cloves, sliced

2 packs of firm silken tofu, cut into small (3/4“) bite-size squares. Put tofu in the freezer the night before and thaw the next day before cooking.

 

Cutting the tofu after it thaws. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

1 box cremini or baby bella mushrooms, cleaned with damp cloth, then sliced

1 handful of Kale or baby spinach (wash spinach 3 times), washed well, drained, dried, chopped

Sesame oil for cooking tofu

2 eggs, beaten, for cooking tofu

2 Tablespoons Panko small size, for cooking tofu

1 box of butternut squash noodles or make your own spirals

1/2 to 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

 

Easy to find ingredients. Use either kale or spinach. We’ve tried both and each is good. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

  

Directions For Tofu and Veggies

 

Dip each small piece of tofu into egg, then panko and cook in sesame oil on each side for 2 minutes in a wok or skillet, Cook each side of tofu ONLY ONCE.

 

Dip each piece of tofu in beaten egg, then in Panko (smallest size) ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

  

Then with tongs, (and a very narrow spatula) turn each nugget of tofu to another side and cook for 2 minutes. Do this turning two more times until each nugget is cooked on all four sides. Do not go back and re-cook any side, or the crispy outside will start to crumble away. You want to try to get each piece of tofu nice and brown and crisp on the outside. When done, drain on paper towel on a plate and set aside.

 

Cooking the tofu in sesame oil. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

In the same skillet, saute over medium flame, the onion and garlic, until both turn golden. Next add the squash noodles, black beans and kale and mix all the veggies together. When the kale has wilted down, the veggies are done. Set aside and concentrate on the peanut sauce.

 

Veggies have been cooked, put into baking/serving dish and tossed with peanut sauce. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Directions For Peanut Sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a small bowl add 1 or 2 Tablespoons sesame oil, and let 10 fresh garlic cloves, sit in the oil for 10 to 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the garlic and put on a baking sheet. Roast in oven until soft; then remove and allow to cool down.

Save the sesame oil for cooking the tofu cubes.

 

First, when I used a food processor, it was harder to judge the quality of the sauce, which was way too thick, like lumpy. I had to add 5 Tablespoons of rice vinegar and pulsed; still too thick, so I added, slowly, 1/2 cup of cold water. The photo above is after adding the extra liquid, while pulsing. Eventually, I got it right, but whisking this sauce in a bowl the second time, was easier. Scroll down for the peanut sauce recipe. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

  

Final Serving Veggie Combo Directions

Put the veggie combo of: squash noodles, kale, beans into a large serving (baking dish). Add half of the peanut sauce and toss the veggies with the sauce until everything is well mixed.

Add the cooked tofu on top of the mixed noodles and black beans.

Using a small spatula, scrape the other half, of the sauce out of your bowl or the food processor, and over the tofu.

Warm in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven. Keep your eye on this recipe after 5 minutes, and remove it when you feel it’s nice and warm to serve.

Consider serving with rice, pasta, polenta

 

Homemade Peanut Sauce (easy)

Ingredients

Zest of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon curry

1 pinch chili flakes

1/2 cup water

1 Tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled, grated, or very well minced

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon garlic, very well minced

1 teaspoon rice vinegar (don’t substitute white vinegar; it’s too strong; whereas the rice vinegar has a more delicate flavor that blends will with the other ingredients.

 

Directions

In a medium serving bowl, combine all of the above ingredients: peanut butter, water, soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, minced garlic, and vinegar in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

If you feel that the sauce is too thick, slowly add more of either rice vinegar, or plain water, whisking as you add, until you get the consistency you want.

I suppose you could put everything into a food processor, but then you have to wash that out. I’ve done both, and the hand whisk was easier and less work. Your choice.

 

The end result was delicious, healthy and relatively easy. I’m working on another tofu recipe next week. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Our custom seems to be, when we find a new wine we both like, we drink it endlessly, until we run into some other wine adventure. We’ve gone through two cases of The Vice, but we’re still enjoying it, so will order two more. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

We went with our house guests to the B’way show, The Band’s Visit. The dialogue was in English, Hebrew and Arabic and so was the music. For us, this alone, was reason enough to go. The plot sounds simple (An Egyptian Band with a concert date in Israel, gets lost and ends up in the wrong Israeli town), however, it’s as simple as life itself, not.

 

This show opened last year, at one of the theater clubs we sponsor, The Atlantic Theater Company in Chelsea. After it overwhelmed audiences there in 2017, it moved uptown to the Barrymore in 2018, to rave reviews. We urge you to go. You might be interested in reading the reviews of the New York Times.

 

Have a great week everyone!

From Our Table to Yours

 

Stuffed Dates with Blood Oranges & Mandarins

©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Because citrus is still at its peak, the idea of delicious fresh fruit, for dessert, has great appeal. Here is what we feasted on with guests, for dessert this weekend. Healthy and delicious with a colorful presentation, this is one dessert to consider. Oh, and btw, it’s quick and easy to prepare.

 

Ingredients

1.  4 mandarin or Clementine oranges

2.  2 blood oranges

3.  splash of Cointreau or orange blossom water

4.  8 ripe Medjool dates

5.  8 teaspoons mascarpone

6.  30 roasted/salted pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped seeds from 1/2 pomegranate

 

Directions

Prep mandarins and blood oranges by slicing a small piece of the top and bottom off the unpeeled fruit. Now, with a sharp knife, slowly cut away strips of peel and pith.  Once the peel is removed, slice the citrus horizontally into nice pinwheels. You can use a mandolin, carefully or a sharp knife. Scatter the citrus rounds onto a plate. Add a light splash of Cointreau or orange blossom water to the citrus – It’s amazing how the Cointreau or orange blossom water enhances the natural perfume of the fresh citrus slices. I bought my orange blossom water and pistachios from Amazon.com.

Cut each date with a slice large enough to remove and discard the pits. Carefully stuff each date cavity with 1 teaspoon mascarpone. Press some chopped pistachio and pomegranate seeds onto the mascarpone. Scatter the remaining pistachio and pomegranate onto the plate. I bought pomegranate arils from FreshDirect.com, which is so much easier than prying each seed from a pomegranate.

 

Here’s the orange blossom water, I used purchased from Amazon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Arrange a colorful dessert platter, sprinkled with chopped pistachios. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

We had an experimental tofu recipe, along with our recent favorite, The Vice, chardonnay.  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Jules and I tried this delicious fresh fruit in three ways: 1) without any additions  2) with about 1 teaspoon Cointreau on each orange slice. 3) with about 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water (non-alcoholic) on each slice. I liked all three versions. Jules didn’t like the orange blossom water, but did like the other two versions, with a preference for the Cointreau.

 

Coffee and tea goes well with this dessert.  If you want to serve an alcoholic beverage and you’re using Cointreau on the orange slices, you might as well stick to the same in glasses, or consider a grappa.

 

Have a great week everyone!

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

 

Cauliflower Gratin with South Asian Spices

I spent a fair amount of time, experimenting with this recipe. I was in a cheesy mood but didn’t want to include pasta. I’m learning about and loving Middle Eastern and South Asian spices. I know that goat cheese and yogurt are used a lot but wasn’t sure how good these spices would be with typical Western cheeses. Hence, the need to experiment a lot. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This experiment had less cheddar, but just as good. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Ingredients 

1 onion, chopped

2 scallions, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

15 fresh garlic cloves, sliced

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, well chopped

1 heaping teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds, toasted

2 heads cauliflower, steam for 5 minutes, then break into bite size pieces

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup almond or chickpea flour

1 cup almond milk, warmed

2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese

3 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup grated muenster

2 cups ricotta

1 pinch black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs. Mix separately, the panko with the parmesan. Set aside.

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tablespoons butter, melted, then add to Panko topping

 

Wonderful fresh ingredients. The seasonings are on a long shelf in the above left corner, conveniently located next to the stove. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Directions 

1. Chop, slice, cut everything that needs this initial preparation.

 

Chopping everything on the same cutting board. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

2. Preheat oven to 350o

3. Oil a very large baking dish

4. Sautee in olive oil, the onion, scallion, shallots, jalapeno, garlic. When onion and garlic are soft, add all other spices and seasoning and stir together well.

 

Cooking all the chopped veggies. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

  

5. Toast the mustard seeds, then add them to the onion mixture.

 

In photo above, the mustard seeds are toasting. I love using toasted mustards seeds; they pack a huge amount of flavor in any recipe. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Adding seasoning, spices, seeds, etc. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Adding all chopped herbs to the pot – stir, cook and blend. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Add the grated cheese. Stir it in well. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Here the roux with added ricotta is ready to scrape into the large skillet. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

6. Steam the cauliflower for 5 minutes or less. It needs to stay crisp. Drain; return to pot. When completely drained, pat with paper towel and put into the large oiled baking dish

 

Cauliflower was steamed and is now draining in the sink. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

7. In a saucepan, melt 3 Tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth and make your roux; whisk in the warmed milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Now, lower heat and stir in the ricotta very well.

8. Stir into the saucepan everything from the onion mixture. Make sure to mix very well into all of the milky ingredients.

9. Stir in muenster and cheddar cheeses.

10. Finally, pour all of the cheesy mixture over the cauliflower and toss well so that the vegetables are all covered with the cheesy mixture.

 

The above photo is just before sprinkling the mixture of panko, melted butter and parmesan, all over the top of the casserole. Then it goes into the oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

11. In a separate bowl, toss bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese and melted butter; sprinkle over top of casserole.

12. Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden brown.

 

One version with lots of cheddar cheese. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Above is another version. I cut down on the cheese and added precooked slices of turkey sausage. Yummy! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Same recipe but I left all cheddar out. Very delicious. I added the spot of broccoli, just to get some color when serving, and also with the photo in mind. This version was served with baked halibut. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This recipe goes extremely well with fish and seafood. Here it’s served with velvety wild salmon, and a ginger/garlic topping. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

A dinner guest brought this chardonnay, The Vice. During the following week, we chilled then sampled it. We could not believe how delicious it was. We rarely order chardonnay. It’s usually too dry and tastes like it’s been stored in slate; we know that many like it for that very reason. But, back to The Vice: we liked it so much we wanted to order more. I tried my two, go-to wine stores in Manhattan, but they didn’t carry it. I knew our guest had bought it in the Sutton Place area, so used Google Maps to track a wine store and found Ambassador Wines. They had 4 bottles left and delivered them that day. You will not believe the price! I asked how anyone could make a profit and charge so little. I put in an order for 2 more cases, which arrived about two weeks later. The person who answers the phone at Ambassador Wine is knowledgeable. He agreed with my theory that this smooth wine was one of the sleepers that restaurants favor, for their assortment of house wines, served by the glass. Le Volte is another low cost tasty red Tuscan blend, used by many restaurants as their house wine-by-the-glass. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

The Big Apple always loved Edward Albee, who passed away just a few years ago. This year NYC is honoring the great playwright, with two revivals: Three Tall Women, on B’way and At Home At The Zoo, off-B’way at Signature Theater, where we are patrons. We’re seeing the B’way production later this Spring. Saturday we saw the off-B’way production and loved it. The acting is superb. If you like Theater of the Absurd, you shouldn’t miss either of these Albee revivals.

 

We discovered a new seafood restaurant connected to the W Hotel on B’way and 47th Street, Blue Fin. The food was excellent, service was very good, casual dress— not fancy; we would go again.

 

Have a great week everyone!

 

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

 

Kale and Cheese Stuffed Potatoes

This is a delicious recipe and easy to make. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Kale and Cheese Stuffed Potatoes

(Kale for Brunch, Lunch or Dinner)

3 russet potatoes about 10 oz. each (long and flat)

1 bunch Tuscan kale

Coarse salt

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

1 large leek

1 cup coarsely grated cheddar, gruyere or comte

3/4 cup sour cream

Pinch black pepper

Pinch cayenne

3 fresh garlic cloves, minced

 

Get all ingredients together ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Directions 

Heat oven to 400oF.

 

1. Cook potatoes the first time: Gently scrub potatoes but do not peel. Pierce all over with a fork so that steam escapes. If you don’t poke some holes, you could have a potato explosion followed by a mess. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced in center. Leave oven on.

 

2. While potatoes cook, prepare stuffing: Tear kale leaves off the stems, and wash leaves in cold water to remove any dirt. Don’t dry. Tear leaves into large pieces. Heat a pan over medium-high and add the kale and a pinch of salt. Cook in the pan with just the water clinging to the leaves until they wilt down. Remove from pan and transfer to a colander and when cool enough to handle, wring out any extra moisture. I use either paper toweling or a clean kitchen towel. On a cutting board, finely chop greens. There should be about a cup of well-chopped greens; more or less.

 

3. Trim leek down to the yellow and pale green part. Halve lengthwise and wash in cold water to remove any dirt, then pat dry. Cut leek halves the long way, again, so they’re in quarter-stalks, and thinly slice.

 

In a bowl, mixing the cooked kale, garlic and leeks ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add butter and oil. When both are warm, add leek and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until mostly tender and sweet, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring. Avoid letting it brown. Add the minced garlic and chopped kale back to pan and warm up with leeks, for about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a bowl.

 

Potatoes, leeks, kale have been mashed, sour cream and 3/4 grated cheese have been stirred in. Mixture is ready to heap into the baked shells of the potato. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

5. Prepare potatoes: When potatoes are cool enough to handle, halve lengthwise and scoop out all but the last 1/4-inch thickness of skin and potato (you want the potato shell to remain strong enough to hold all the stuffing). Now add the potato insides, to bowl with leeks and greens. Arrange the potato shells on a baking sheet. Mash potatoes, leeks and kale together until smooth. Stir in the sour cream, 3/4 of cheese and more salt and pepper (optional). Now, heap the kale/potato mixture into the potato skins. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 of cheese.

 

Going in oven for second time ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

6. Bake potatoes a second time, 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Serve while still nice and warm

 

We opened some of this bottled red satin, which we were saving for a special occasion. This is a well-known vineyard putting forth, year after year, only excellent wines. You can’t go wrong drinking it now or investing in futures. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Friday night, we started by toasting with this delicious (from start to finish), full bodied cab, and a salad with fresh ripe tomatoes, cut up avocados, green olives, mini thin-skinned cucumbers, endive and a fresh lemon juice/olive oil dressing. Then came the unbelievably tender center-cut fillet mignon with marsala/mushroom sauce, the (recipe above) kale/cheese stuffed potatoes, some cauliflower fritters with pomegranate arils (will post my recipe soon), some sweet potato/date patties with chopped pistachios (will post another of my recipes soon) and more wine.

 

Our house guests for a while from LA:  our son and his friend.  We went to the MetOpera to see the gorgeous Anthony Minghella production of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly and enjoyed it immensely. A wonderful weekend was had by all. Here we are dining out at Sardi’s. We look forward to many more visits like the stimulating one we’re in the midst of now.  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Here are two favorite moments from an extraordinary production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly:

 

The beautiful Humming Chorus, as the curtain falls on Act 2

 

Madama Butterfly: “Un bel di” – Maria Callas

 

 

Have a great week everyone!

 

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

 

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