Author Archives for Have Fork, Will Travel

About Have Fork, Will Travel

Office by day, home cook/baker by night, maker of many things. Food groupie always. Life is too short for bad food.

Apple and Shaved Fennel Salad

1 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
 Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 small fennel bulb(s), thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, halved and cored, thinly sliced or cubed
(you can also use whatever apple you have on hand)
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fennel fronds or parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1 ½ ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 2/3 cup)

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, and whisk briskly until dressing is emulsified. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt if needed.
  2. Place the walnuts in a dry pan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on it so the oil in the nuts does not burn. After 3-5 minutes, remove from heat and dice when cool. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the apple, celery, fennel, and walnuts.
  4. Toss the fennel, apple, walnuts, and celery with the dressing. Fold in fennel fronds or parsley, and top with Parmesan cheese just before serving.

    NOTE: Dressing can be made the day before serving, and stored in the refrigerator. Toss with salad ingredients up to 1 hour before serving.

*optional substitutions:
almonds or pecans for walnuts;
gorgonzola or blue cheese for the Parmesan cheese;
mint or basil for part or all of the parsley

Roasted Beets with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

3 large beets, roots intact but tops trimmed off
salt

Pesto
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/8 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
salt

Finishing
salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons loosely packed fresh mint leaves, julienned or minced
2 tablespoon fresh-leaf parsley leaves, julienned or minced

For the salad

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, then add the beets and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until fork-tender. Alternately, you can cook the beets in a pressure cooker under high pressure for 15-20 minutes with a cup of water added. Let naturally pressure release for 5 minutes, then manual release the rest of the steam.
  2. Drain the beets and rinse under cold water, using your fingers to rub off the skins off. Set the beets aside and let cool.
  3. In a food processor, combine the garlic, parsley, mint, pepitas, olive oil, and lemon juice. Pulse until very well combined. Season with salt. If the pesto is too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  4. Slice the beet into rounds or wedges, place on a platter, and lightly season with salt. Drizzle the beets with the pesto and olive oil, then sprinkle with the mint and parsley leaves. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

**optional substitutions:
substitute cilantro for part of the parsley in the pesto or finishing herbs;
swap out toasted sesame oil for the olive oil drizzle 

Roasted Carrot Hummus

1 cup baby carrots**
3 cloves whole garlic, peeled (or 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic)
2 tablespoons and 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)

Serve with:
Root vegetable chips, pita chips, celery sticks, tortilla strips, toast points

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

On a rimmed baking pan, toss together the carrots, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until the carrots and garlic are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Place the carrots, garlic and chickpeas in a food processor. Pulse to combine and break apart slightly. Add the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Puree until smooth and has an even color overall. If the hummus is too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time and blend until the consistency you want.

Make sure to taste the hummus at this point and see if you want to adjust it with additional salt or seasonings.

Serve with root vegetable chips, pita chips, tortilla strips, celery sticks, or toast points for dipping.

**You can use 8 ounces carrots that have been peeled and cut into 1-inch strips.

The day I learned to live without fear

I have jokingly said for decades that Don Quixote is my patron saint. I have a knack at tilting windmills daily, sometimes with unexpected results (good and bad). I try to keep a sense of humor, and look for positives and solutions in challenging situations. Those traits helped me four years ago. Well, it actually started five years ago, and then became personal the following year.

My big dog, Juno, was diagnosed in 2015 with thyroid cancer. It was aggressive and the tumor was fairly large. The vet and specialist both gave her about six months to live, and didn’t know if her having surgery would even help. She was 11 at the time (which is old for a boxer-pit mix), so we decided to spoil her even more and make her last few months happy. She even thought the kitten we got was for her to raise. She was a happy dog for sure.

Six months later, I noticed that I had a small lump at the base of my throat. It took three months of bugging Kaiser, but I finally saw a physician that was concerned enough to have it tested. 2016 was a year of happenings: I turned 50, my hubby and I earned our Associate degrees, and I received a cancer diagnosis. We had been standing in line to get into the Firestone Walker Invitational beer festival when I got the call from Kaiser with the results. Needless to say, it put a slight damper on the day.

Once the diagnosis was in, Kaiser moved quickly and five weeks later I had surgery. Great surgeon, no pain, and virtually no scar. It was emotionally rough, because I wasn’t able to let many people know because of external family drama at the time. I had friends that were dealing with their own health challenges, and was a little envious that they were able let others know so that assistance could be offered. Thankfully, I healed quickly and have continued to be cancer-free for the last four years. My Juno lived four more glorious and happy years, and passed away last October at the ripe old age of almost 15. She is still the best dog I’ve ever had.

I get a little sentimental on my cancerversary (7/19), and appreciate that the nodules were found early. It had spread in back of my windpipe, and being able to breathe is important for a wind instrument musician. One positive thing that the diagnosis did was remove my fear of “what if”. It gave me permission to let myself try things without constantly worrying what others would think, or even if I succeeded or failed. The adventure and experience were worth the imagined risk. At the end of the day I could still say I gave it a good go and met people (and learned something) in the process. I have a good life, have met some amazing people, and enjoy the daily adventure.

What does the future hold? I have no idea. I’m writing my recipes down (well, mostly), slowly building my website and blog (BTW, thanks for checking it out!), and having a blast creating the weekly Worst Cooks bingo. I’ll still talk with anyone who’ll listen about food, and am slowly learning how to stage and film cooking videos. I have a bit to go until I am happy with them, but the process has been interesting. My regular job pays the bills, and the musical groups I belong to are adapting to the current Covid-19 restrictions. I might get the hang of recording sometime soon, but I still feel a little silly recording myself playing with a click-track in my ear. It isn’t the same as playing in person with a group, but it is better than not being able to perform.

I do know this, life is what you make of it. I wish I had gotten braver at trying things at an earlier point in life, but better late than never. I may run five minutes late at times, have way too many cookbooks, and will never be very stylish. But I am kind, quirky, and try to be true to myself as much as possible. I appreciate the good things in my life, and keep making new goals for myself. I might not change my stars, but I will make sure to have an adventure along the way (and eat as much good food as I can find ).

Remember, life is too short for bad food.

Baked Sea Scallops

  • 16 sea scallops, rinsed and drained (**see substitutions below)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 pinches ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon wedges for garnish
Photo by Tanya Gorelova on Pexels.com

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place scallops, melted butter, garlic, and shallots in a bowl. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir gently to combine. Transfer to a casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, combine bread crumbs and olive oil, then sprinkle on top of scallops.

Bake in preheated oven until crumbs are brown and scallops are done, about 11 to 14 minutes. Top with chopped parsley, and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

**Substitutions: If you are not a fan of scallops, you can swap them out for ½-1 lb of shrimp or white fish. The cooking time should be adjusted to 8-12 minutes for shrimp. Cooking time for fish should be about the same as for scallops, but it will depend on the thickness of the pieces.

Coriander Drop Cookies

·         1 cup vegetable shortening

·         1 cup sugar

·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract

·         2 eggs

·         3 cups flour

·         1 teaspoon baking powder

·         3⁄4 teaspoon salt

·         2 teaspoons coriander

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cream the shortening until fluffy, then gradually add in the sugar and beat until light.

Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg until blended.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and coriander.

Add the sifted dry ingredients to the shortening-egg mixture and mix well.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet; you can also use parchment paper or silicone sheet instead of greasing the cookie sheet.

Bake about 10 minutes until done.

Easy Bechamel Sauce

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the flour until smooth. Continue stirring as the flour cooks to a light, golden color, about 7 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high and slowly whisk in milk until thickened by the roux (cooked flour mixture). Bring to a gentle simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue simmering until smooth and thickens, about 10 to 20 minutes. Once the sauce no longer tastes gritty, season with salt and nutmeg.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dry dill (or a teaspoon chopped fresh)

In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste.

Store covered in the fridge for up to a week.

Spice Blends

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Spread some on salmon or ribs before grilling or add into a brown sugar marinade for chicken.

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.


Baharat Seasoning

Baharat, a Middle Eastern spice combines cardamom, coriander seeds, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir some into your next vegetable dish, or mix some with lime juice and oil for a savory marinade.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried mint
    • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
    • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper**

Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, mash the ingredients together for 2 to 3 minutes.

**You can substitute white pepper if you want a less spicy blend.


Cajun Seasoning

Makes about 2 cups

  • 4 tablespoons paprika
    • 3 tablespoons dried granulated onion
    • 3 tablespoons dried granulated garlic
    • 1/4 cup cayenne pepper
    • 2 tablespoons white pepper
    • 3 tablespoons finely ground black pepper
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground thyme
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground oregano
    • 2 tablespoons ground New Mexican chile
    • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle chile

Combine the paprika, onion, garlic, cayenne, white pepper, black pepper, thyme, oregano, New Mexican chile, and chipotle chile in a bowl. Store in a covered container up to 6 months.

Substitutions: You can use hot or smoked paprika instead of regular to change the flavor. This recipe doesn’t call for any salt, do remember to salt your ingredients in addition to using the spice in a recipe.


Everything Bagel Spice

  • 2 ½ teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 2 ½ teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

Combine ingredients together and store in an airtight jar.


Garam Malsala Powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix cumin, coriander, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a bowl. Place mix in an airtight container, and store in a cool, dry place.


Five-Spice Powder

3 tablespoons cinnamon
6 star anise or 2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns or 1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in blender or coffee grinder. Blend until finely ground. Store in airtight container. It will keep up to 2 months.

Note: For a more intense flavor, toast the whole spices in a dry pan for a few minutes.

Curries

Any leftover curry powder would be delicious mixed into deviled eggs, sprinkled over quartered new potatoes before roasting, or stirred into yogurt and served with pita chips or warm naan. Perfect for use in soups, stews, curries. Try sprinkling on fried potatoes or scrambled eggs.

Curry Powder 1

Makes about 3 tablespoons

  • 2 dried red chiles, stemmed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Combine chiles, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds in small bowl. Add cold water to cover, then drain. Place drained mixture in heavy small skillet. Dry-roast over medium-low heat until seeds are dry, slightly darker in color, and beginning to pop, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan from heat, and let cool in skillet.

Place nutmeg, white pepper, and turmeric in spice mill or grinder. Add the cooled spice mixture, then grind to powder. Store in a cool place in an airtight container.


Curry Powder 2

Makes about 1/2 cup

  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons whole cardamom seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne

Add ingredients to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind up. Place in a small jar with airtight lid and shake to combine. Store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months. When ready to use, add to dishes according to taste.


Curry Powder 3

  • 2 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or ground chilies

Add all spices to a small jar and shake. Store in airtight jar for up to 3 months.


Sweet and Mild Curry Blend

Makes 1/4 cup

2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
1⁄2 teaspoon clove
1⁄2 teaspoon ground mustard
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Combine all ingredients, and store in a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

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