This Dame Cooks A Collection of Recipes from Alaska to the South Pacific and Caribbean

Spinach Soup with Greek Yogurt in a Mug

04.25.2013 · Posted in Recipes, Soups

Spinach SoupYou can’t get much healthier than fresh baby spinach soup with Greek Yogurt laced with plenty of fresh dill.  This is pure comfort food and all homemade!  Often I grab a mug of some soupy concoction for a quick lunch.  It may be tomato soup, chicken noodle or minestrone but always homemade so I know what is in it.  Fresh vegetables in season are just the ticket to a quick, delicious and nutritious soup like this spinach soup… loaded with iron and vitamins.  A mug lends a little portion control which is my major food challenge.  Even healthy food can be fattening if you over-do-it.

Spinach was pretty common in our house when I was a kid.  The Popeye cartoon series was all the rage then and parents exploited it so we had no choice but to eat it and learn to like it.  Mom drizzled a little vinegar on canned spinach to give it a little bright flavor and she  made fresh spinach frittatas (quasado) and spinach salads which were full of flavor. Early exposure is the trick to teaching children to eat vegetables.  Growing your own vegetables with the kids is another way to develop their taste for vegetables.  They’ll love eating what they have helped to grow…back in the day, we certainly did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small potato, peeled and sliced thin (or shredded)
  • 1 package prewashed baby spinach (about 12 oz.)
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (homemade is best)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • Greek yogurt or creme fraiche to garnish

Method:

  1. Warm a stock pot over medium heat, add oil and when oil is warm add garlic.  Saute for 30 seconds and add potato.  Salt and pepper lightly and cook until potato starts to soften.
  2. Add all the spinach at once and stir fry until its soft.  Add the vegetable stock and bring to a lively simmer.
  3. When the potatoes are done, remove from heat, stir in the fresh dill and lemon juice.  Whiz with an immersion blender or puree in a blender or food processor.
  4.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Garnish with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of dill.

Spaghetti Frittata – Pan-fried Leftovers

04.10.2013 · Posted in Main Dishes, Recipes

DSCF0836Baked frittata is magnificent for a crowd but this quick pan-fried frittata, which takes less than 15 minutes to throw together and cook, is perfect for one or two servings as a light dinner with a green salad and glass of wine.  Its just a little less than one serving of leftover cooked spaghetti pasta, about 1/2 cup of leftover marinara sauce, leftover mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses plus 2 eggs.  The outside is crusty and buttery, and the inside is tender with lots of Italian flavor.  Garnish with fresh basil before serving.

Here’s how to do it:

Blend the leftovers in a bowl with the eggs, don’t forget the cheeses.  You shouldn’t need anymore seasoning if the marinara sauce was adequately seasoned when cooked. Use a 10-inch nonstick skillet and melt a tablespoon of butter or more over medium high heat, then pour in the pasta/cheese/egg mixture.  Let it cook undisturbed until the eggs set and the bottom is nicely golden brown.  The top will look slightly undone, not runny but not totally dry.  Slide the whole thing in one piece onto a plate bigger than the skillet.  Using hot pads or kitchen towel, invert the skillet over the plate.  Then flip the plate over so the frittata lands upside down in the skillet.  Return the skillet to the heat and cook 3 minutes more or until the bottom is nicely browned and crusty.  Slide the finished frittata onto the same plate you used for flipping and garnish with fresh basil.

Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies with Cardamom

Easter Cookies - photo by Wisconsinfood.com

Easter Cookies – photo by Wisconsinfood.com

No matter what the holiday or occasion sugar cookies are colorful reminders of love and caring. Easter really snuck up on me this year. One minute I was working on a new doll pattern and the next minute a friend was calling for Easter cookies.  Sugar cookies are the easiest to make but rather tasteless so I tweaked the recipe with a bit of cardmom and some homemade vanilla extract.  A couple drops of almond extract add a nice flavor to the Royal Icing and doesn’t muddle the cardamom flavor of the cookie.

Time was of the essence while I iced and decorated the baked cookies and hoped the icing would dry before placing them in individual bags with ribbon ties.  Ribbon?  Well no time to shop for ribbons so a pink plastic bag, cut into strips, was the remedy.  Then, just to be generous I made a felt bunny to add to the basket (link to pattern below) .  And when the basket was all done and on its way out the door I suddenly remembered I didn’t take any photos…duh!  The photo below is from Rhea’s iphone.  The felt bunny is the star rather than the cookies but its all good until next year.  I used the cookies cutters as depicted in the photo at the right.  Needless to say Rhea was delighted with the basket of decorated cookies and the felt bunny.

Couple of tips for making crisp cookies:

1)  Chill the dough at least 2 hours

2)  Cut off a piece of chilled dough just big enough to roll for one cookie

3)  Sprinkle a piece of plastic wrap with flour, place the dough on the flour, sprinkle the top lightly with more flour and cover with another piece of plastic wrap, then roll to desired thickness (1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick), remove the top plastic and cut with a floured cookie cutter.  If the dough is cold enough the cut-out will be easy to release and transfer to the baking sheet using the plastic wrap.

Easter bunny 24)  Place the baking sheet with the cut-outs in the freezer until firm – this will prevent them from spreading during baking.  I like to use parchment paper on the baking sheets – comes in handy if you want to move the chilled cut-outs and for easy release when baked.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter at room temperature (use salted butter)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (pure vanilla or homemade vanilla extract)
  • 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom

Method:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together, add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
  2. Whisk the cardamom with the flour and add to the butter cream in 3 additions.  The dough will be quite soft.
  3. Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and cover it completely shaping it into a rectangle or disc.
  4. Chill the dough until firm, at least 2 hours.  Roll and cut-out cookies (see tips above).
  5. Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven until barely browned on the edges, about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of cookie.  Lightly touch the center of a cookie to check for doneness.  The less it gives, the more done is the cookie.

thumb_1248_48289_DIYFELTBUNNYsewingpattern_1       http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/sewing/toy/diy-felt-bunny-sewing-pattern/48289

 

Sourdough Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

02.28.2013 · Posted in Pies, Cakes & Cookies, Recipes

DSCF0793Sourdough always makes me think of San Francisco or Anchorage.  After all it was the gold prospectors of the early 1900′s who made sourdough a staple of the last frontiers of our nation.  Often times the miners kept a ball of sourdough in their pocket so they’d always have the yeast to make a batch of bread or biscuits.

Not only is sourdough bread one of my true eating pleasures but growing my own sourdough starter and making other sourdough goodies is right up there on the accomplishment scale.    I love sourdough biscuits, pancakes, crepes, pizza crusts, sourdough spice cake and this basic sourdough cookie recipe.   It’s perfect for making oatmeal raisin cookies with crisp outsides and soft insides.  There’s just a tad of tang that plays nicely with the blue berry raisins and a hint of brown sugar that caramelizes on the outside.  The pecans add a bit of crunch.

The first thing you’ll need is a sourdough starter.  If you have one already, take it out of the refrigerator and feed it at least 2 times over the next 24 hours.  You know the drill, stir 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water into the starter, cover and let ferment in a warm place.  Be sure to refrigerate the left over starter…or make a batch of bread.  If you don’t have a starter, make one…easy peasy recipes are all over the web or use my sourdough starter recipe.

Ingredients for 3 dozen cookies:

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dried fruit and nuts of choice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Method:

  1.  Stir the sourdough starter until it is smooth then measure 1/2 cup and place in a medium sized bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Whisk the eggs and butter into the sourdough starter.  Cover and let set for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk the sugar and vanilla into the sourdough batter until the sugar dissolves.  Add the oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt and stir.
  4. Toss the fruit and nuts with the baking soda then fold into the sourdough batter.
  5. Drop batter by teaspoon onto prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until bottoms and edges of cookies are golden brown.
  6. Remove from baking sheet to a cooling rack.  Store cooled cookies in an airtight container.

Cherry and Almond Loaf

01.28.2013 · Posted in Breads, Pies, Cakes & Cookies, Recipes

Cherry and Almond Loaf

This was a spur-of-the-moment quick bread made with leftover frozen cherries and toasted almonds.  It turned out so moist and flavorful with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg along with the crunch of the almonds and sweetness of the cherries.  This recipe is adapted from a Hawaiian Mango Bread recipe I picked up a zillion years ago while traveling through Honolulu.  Just add chopped mango, coconut and macadamia nuts in place of the cherries and almonds and you’ll have Hawaiian Mango Bread.  Actually, you can use any fruit and nut you desire and come up with your own version.  Be sure to use the yogurt as it activates the baking soda and baking powder giving you a super light crumb instead of a dense and heavy mass.

Do try this recipe.  It is great toasted or just warm from the oven with butter if you dare.  Let a few slices dry out and make French toast with it.  Its absolutely the bomb with flambeed fruit and ice cream or warm homemade fruit syrup.

The recipe given is for a standard 9X5-inch loaf pan, or 12 cupcake size muffins, 6 Texas size muffins or 4 mini loaves.  Add this recipe to your Christmas baking – great gifts from your kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups cherries, halved (fresh, frozen or dried)
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped (or almonds of your choice…slivered, sliced etc.)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil of choice
  • 1 cup sugar of choice (light brown sugar or raw sugar adds that molasses tone)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp each vanilla and almond extract
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour a loaf pan or muffin tin.
  2. In a medium sized bowl mix all dry ingredients with a whisk.  Toss dry mix with fruit and 1/2 cup of nuts.
  3. In a separate bowl beat the oil with the sugar until creamy and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition.  Add the vanilla and yogurt.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until all flour is moistened, about 10 or 12 strokes with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle with remaining chopped nuts.
  6. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove to a cooling rack, let set 5 minutes before turning out loaf.
  7. Allow to cool another 10 minutes or more before slicing.