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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Great Tips For Artisanal Breads, Corn On The Cob, And Everything Strawberry

Croissants, Open Hearth, Baguette, White, And Challah Bread

Everyone that knows me, knows there are a couple of things I love. Artisanal breads and strawberries. Not only do I love to eat them,  they are in full dispay in my home.

One any given day I’ll buy artisan breads and I know it wouldn’t take me long to use them in different recipes, so I could easily devour them. Truth is, I can really get carried away, and I need to cut back.

I had this idea where if I could immortalize them, maybe, just maybe, that would make it easier for me not to rush out and buy a loaf all the time.

I ended up drying them out in the oven, turning them into giant croutons. I baked them off on a really low temperature (175 degrees F) for about 3-4 hours. I let them cool overnight, then varnished each one of the loaves along with a couple of croissants.

Now, I can just admire them any time I want, and not have to worry about the weight gain that would certainly be inevitable.  Turns out, it became a lifelike breadbasket that makes a beautiful centerpiece for any table.

How about this one? You know, what a pain it is when you want to remove the corn kernels from the cob. Here’s a great tip.

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I love grilled corn and add it different dishes. It’s the task of removing the corn when kernels seem go everywhere.  They fly all over the place. They’re all over the cutting board, on the on the counter, and even end up on the floor. It’s a battle to keep the kernels together.

Take a Bundt pan or an Angel food cake pan, both shown in the pictures above, set the base of cob into the hole. Hold the top of the cob with one hand, using a sharp chef’s  knife, slice off the kernels. I promise, those kernels will all fall right into the cake pan. VOILA!

I do have one more short story. When I first moved out on my own, my grandmother gave me a strawberry canister set for my kitchen. Well, just like most girls, I thought I’d keep that theme going and stick with all things strawberry

I was 19 years old then, I’m now in my 50’s and I think my strawberry themed kitchen now looks more like the store you see in every Cracker Barrel.

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Hutch

But you know what?, there’s a story and a memory behind everyone one.

 

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Sauteed Mushrooms

2018-06-08 16.57.45Perfectly sautéed mushrooms can elevate any dish to the next level. Whether you’re using them as a side dish, or maybe in lasagna, their beef-like texture and earthy flavor make the perfect meat substitute. Here’s a little secret I’m really excited about, my new upcoming  video, on how to incorporate sauteed mushrooms into a dish that puts a spin on a traditional recipe we all love. www.YouTube.com/LindaHamel

Mushrooms are like little sponges, they absorb flavor really well. The three things that all mushrooms love are butter, garlic, and Thyme. Whether you choose a domestic mushroom, wild mushrooms, or a combination of both, the cooking technique is the same. This is my recipe for the best sautéed mushrooms EVER!

First, I’m going to my hanging herb garden to grab a few sprigs of Thyme.

Thyme

Thyme is one of those herbs that pairs well with so many dishes. When Thyme matures,  the stems become hardy and wood-like. If that’s the case, you only want to use their leaves.  The outer sprigs of my plant are still green and tender so, as I snip off a few sprigs for this dish, I don’t worry if the stems getchopped up along with their leaves.

If you are not able to find fresh Thyme, dried Thyme is perfectly fine. If you’re not a fan of this herb, just leave it out, it’s totally optional.  I love the minty/lemony flavor of thyme, so I’m using both types for this recipe.

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I’m using a combination of domestic and wild mushrooms for this recipe. Let’s talk about the different varieties I have here.

Oyster Mushrooms

This one in the above picture are the Oyster mushrooms. Whenever using mushrooms, take a damp cloth and clean the outside to remove any dirt that may be on them. To cut an Oyster mushroom, use a sharp knife to carefully cut around the firm central stem and the individual caps will fall away. Tip:  Reserve the stems for adding to stock. I’m not slicing the caps any smaller because these are the perfect size.

Trumpet Mushrooms

These are  the Trumpet mushrooms. I just slice of the tip off the bottom of the stem,  the rest of the mushroom I cut up into 2 inch chunks.

 

Both the Cremini (baby Portobello mushrooms) and white Button mushrooms I slice the same way, with their stems.

Shitake Mushrooms (2)

With Shitake mushrooms, I remove their tough stems and slice the caps.  Save the stems for stock.

Portobello Mushroms

The Portobello mushrooms, I remove the stems and then using a spoon, clean their gills from underneath the cap, then slicing them, fairly thick.

 

 

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Now we are ready,  the mushrooms are prepped

 

 

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Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: Deep sided sauté pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh Thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dried Thyme
( about 1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms total)
2 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 pint of white Button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 pints of Cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
5 Oyster mushrooms, cleaned, central stem removed and discarded
6 Trumpet mushrooms, bottom tip removed, then sliced into 2 inch pieces
10 Shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and discarded, caps sliced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
3 tablespoons of unsalted beef stock (substitute a dry white wine)

Directions:
In a large deep sided sauté pan ( if you don’t have one of these pans, sauté your mushrooms in two batches, about 5 minutes per batch) on medium heat,  add unsalted butter, olive oil, fresh and dried Thyme. When butter has melted, add the mushrooms, tossing and stirring continuously. As the mushrooms cook they will start to release their water.  Add in the minced garlic and black pepper, again, stirring occasionally.  Once all the their water has evaporated, there will be mushroom bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock and scrape all those delicious bits up using a wooden spoon. Once the mushrooms have really started to brown, this is when you want to salt the mushrooms. Continue stirring and allow the mushrooms to cook, absorbing the remainder of the beef broth and become tender, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

 

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Farro Breakfast Bowl

Farro Breakfast Bowl (3)

Farro is an ancient grain from Rome. Its delicious nutty flavor, and slightly chewy texture, reminds me a lot of barley. Farro has been a long time coming. You just couldn’t get your hands on it anywhere! Now, it’s readily available in your local grocery store.

I’m showing two pictures here, one above, topped with an egg, and one below without. That’s where Steve and I have a strong difference of opinion. I’m not even sure if “opinion” is the even the right word. I’m no fan of the fried egg.  To be fair though, eggs are a big part of breakfast and Steve loves them, so that’s the reason for two pictures.

Anyway, this Farro breakfast bowl is easy to make while combining flavor, color, and texture. Here’s how this dish comes together.

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Let’s talk about Farro

 

I took a screenshot of this brand, because it’s the one I’m used for this dish. You know I love to take help from the grocery store, this cooks up in about 25 minutes, and includes some Porcini mushrooms. I’m SOLD!

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Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Equipment: large saute pan, sauce pan with tight fitting lid.

Ingredients:
1 package of cooked Farro with Porcini mushrooms
1 pound, cooked bulk Italian sausage ( casings removed)
1 small can white shoepeg corn (rinsed and drained)
1 cup diced red bell pepper ( 1 med size pepper)
1 cup diced yellow bell pepper ( 1 med size pepper)
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup Pistachios (optional)
7 ounces diced Feta cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped basil
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped chives
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped mint
1 fried egg (optional, cooked to the temperature of your choosing)

Instuctions For Farro:
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Follow the instructions on the back of the package. Feel free to use either water or unsalted chicken stock for cooking the Farro. In place of the butter on the package, I use olive oil. Cook the sausage while the Farro is cooking.

Directions:
Start by cooking the Farro. While the Farro is cooking on very low heat, in a large non-stick saute pan on medium heat, start browning off the Italian sausage. I don’t add any oil to the pan because the sausage will release its own fat, plus it browns nicely. Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage. Don’t worry about the sausage bits sticking to the pan because once the vegetables are added, they will release their water which will allow those bits to be released. Once the sausage is about 70% cooked, and there is no more pink color showing, add in the vegetables, Kosher salt and black pepper.  Continue stirring, and scraping as much of those brown bits off the bottom of the pan, that’s all flavor! Saute until the onions are translucent, all the vegetables have softened and the sausage is nicely browned and fully cooked.

In a large bowl, add the cooked Farro and shoepeg white corn. Using a slotted spoon, add the sausage and vegetable mixture. Next, add the pistachios (optional),  Parmesan cheese, diced feta cheese, and fresh herbs, then toss.

Finish by adding the Farro mixture into a serving bowl and top with a fried egg, or not. Serve hot!

 

 

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Chicken And Dumplings With Vegetables

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I love this dish! It’s so comforting and just gives you warm fuzzies inside! I have to be honest here, I didn’t make my own dumplings, for this dish. I took some help from my local grocery store. I found that they carry a great and quick alternative to making my own, and it’s a great time saver.

One ingredient that’s a staple in my frig is, chicken fat. Steve loves to grill chicken thighs and doesn’t use the skin. I render the skin down, and save the grease for recipes such as Matzo ball soup, and this dish. Chicken fat can add extra flavor to your dish. I’ll show you how I incorporate it.

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Directions For Poaching Chicken:
Equipment:4 quart sauce pot with glass lid
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time For Poaching Chicken: 30 minutes
Cook Time For Soup: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Note: While chicken is poaching, prep the vegetables.
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 2 tablespoons chicken fat (or 3 tablespoons of olive oil)
1 yellow diced yellow onion
3 diced carrots
3 ribs diced celery
2 cloves of minced garlic
3 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, poached and shredded
pinch of dried rosemary (crush up in your hand)
1-1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
1-10 1/2 ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 package of Mary B’s Open Kettle Dumplings (12 ounces, break strips in half- freeze unused dumplings)
1 package frozen peas – optional
6 cups of low sodium chicken broth (make sure there is enough broth to come over the half-way mark)
4 tablespoons of corn starch
4 tablespoons of water
1/4 cup of finely chopped, fresh flat leaf Italian parsley

While chicken is poaching, prep all the vegetables for the soup.

Directions:
To start, place 3- boneless-skinless chicken breasts ( in a single layer, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, and a pinch of Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, into a large pot. Cover the chicken with either water or ( I’m using) unsalted chicken broth. If the 1 quart of broth does not cover the chicken completely, add water so that it will cover the chicken by at least an inch.

Bring the chicken to a boil of med-high heat. You’ll see some white scummy foam collecting on the surface as the liquid starts to boil.  Since I’m not using the poaching liquid for this recipe, there is no need to skim this off, it’s fine to leave it.

As soon as the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to med- low, cover the pot, and let the chicken simmer. Chicken will typically finish cooking between 25-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat and whether it has a bone.  The chicken breasts are done when they are opaque through the middle, and an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken reads- 165 F.

Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid, transfer the a cutting board, and begin shredding them using two forks, transfer to a bowl.

Packaged Frozen Dumplings:
Gently separate the dumplings right before adding them to the broth.

Directions For The Chicken And Dumplings:
In a small dice, dice the onions, carrots and celery.  Finely mince the garlic. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and chicken fat over medium heat. Add in all the vegetables, poultry seasoning, bay leaves, and a pinch of dried rosemary. Season with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Saute until the onions until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add cream of chicken soup to the pot and stir. Next, add the chicken broth (making sure to add enough broth to where it comes up to over the half -way mark in the soup pot), and give another good stir. Turn the heat to med- high and wait until it returns to a boil. Once boiling, drop in the dumplings one by one. Let them boil in the soup, (45 minutes according to the package), stirring occasionally, until they are all tender. Next, carefully fish out the two bay leaves.

Return cooked shredded chicken to the pot and gently stir through.

To Thicken Broth: Optional
In a small bow combine 4 tablespoons of corn starch with 4 tablespoons of water.
Add to the boiling broth, a little at a time, stirring to reach desired consistency.

 

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