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Friday, August 27, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Almonds

 I found this recipe online and tested it on friends and family over for a game night. These nuts (the almonds, not the guests!) are good, easy to prepare and keep well, but next time I'd jack up the spices a bit. I'm tempted to try this recipe with pecans just because I prefer them, but it's always nice to have a variety on hand for guests.

Sweet Pumpkin Pie Almonds

4 cups whole almonds, toasted
1 egg white
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I'll make it as least 1 tbsp. next time)
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white, sugars, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until light and foamy. Add almonds and stir well to coat.
Spread coated almonds evenly on one or two ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Allow almonds to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Almonds will keep longer if stored in the refrigerator.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Artichokes and Tomatoes Provencale

Although this dish is wonderful and comforting hot out of the oven, with grated Asiago stirred in, it's great without that extra fat. It's even good cool or at room temperature, especially with the hot summer we're having in the Midwest. We love this dish, which I adapted from 50 Ways With Vegetables by Rosemary Wadey, and eat it fairly often.

I substitute a sliced Vidalia or other sweet onion for the baby onions Wadey calls for just because I prefer them. And there's more surface to brown, which I think adds more flavor. I also leave out the olives, lemon juice and capers. I tend to  use canned tomatoes because I always have the ingredients on hand, and the dish has more of the sauce that way.

Artichoke Hearts Provencale

2 15-oz. cans artichoke  hearts, drained and halved
1 Vidalia, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 28-oz can undrained Italian plum tomatoes, or 4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped roughly, or 8 to 10 Romas, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine (a little more doesn't hurt!)
1 tbsp. sugar
12 black olives (optional)
2 tbsp. lemon juice (optional)
1 tbsp. capers (optional)
Chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish

Spray a two-quart casserole and add artichokes.

Fry the onions in the oil in a skillet until beginning to brown, stirring frequently. Transfer to casserole. Turn oven on to 350 degrees

Add garlic, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, wine and sugar to skillet and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour into casserole and toss to distribute ingredients. Cover with foil and bake 30 to 40 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Grilled Marinated Eggplant and Onions

The smoky flavor added by grilling does something wonderful to eggplant. This is my adaptation of a recipe from for Eggplant Mixed Grill. I skipped the asparagus, mushrooms and peppers just because I didn't have any; we liked it so much with just eggplant and onions that I continue to make it that way. I found doubling most of the marinade ingredients made for a tastier, moister end product. This is what I came up with:

Grilled Eggplant and Onions

4 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup fresh chopped herbs, a mix from among parsley, oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 white onions, cut into wedges (rings work, too, if you're like me and slice them out of habit)

Whisk balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil to emulsify. Pour into large resealable plastic bag with herbs, garlic and vegetables, making sure all is coated. Add a little vinegar and olive oil if there doesn't seem to be enough marinade to coat. Seal and chill 2 hours or longer, turning the bag occasionally.

Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Using an oiled vegetable grill wok/basket or grill pan with sides, cook vegetables, turning or tossing vegetables every  10 minutes, till tender and there is some charring. This can take 30 minutes.