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March 2011

Sheryl Crow's Roasted Spring Vegetables with Quinoa

  Spring vegetables with quinoa

Sheryl Crow’s new cookbook – If It Makes You Healthy: More Than 100 Delicious Recipes Inspired by the Seasons (Click here for cookbook)- hits stores this week and is filled with delicious, easy to follow recipes. Sheryl collaborated with personal chef Chuck White, affectionately known as “Chef Chuck.” The duo met while Sheryl was battling breast cancer, which according to her, "was a wake-up call to eat better." The book not only offers a wide array of recipes for snacks, appetizers, soups, salads, main courses and desserts (all grouped seasonally) but also beautiful photographs and personal musings. With winter technically behind us, I jumped to the “Spring and Summer” chapter and decided to try the recipe for Roasted Summer Vegetables and Quinoa. It’s bursting with flavor from the fresh herb vinaigrette which adds a bright finish to the delicate nutty tasting quinoa.

   Download Sheryl Crow Roasted Spring Vegetables with Quinoa recipe

1 bunch of asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into 1” pieces

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup diced yellow squash

1 medium red onion, diced

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon canola oil, preferably expeller-pressed

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 teaspoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon

¼ cup olive oil

4 cups cooked quinoa (Ancient Harvest’s brand)

2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach

½ cup roasted red peppers, diced (store bought or homemade)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with canola oil.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, and onion. Sprinkle with garlic powder and canola oil and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Spread the vegetables evenly over baking sheet and roast until softened but still firm, 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

4. Meanwhile, whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, basil, dill, and tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then slowly whisk in olive oil.

5. In a large bowl, toss the roasted vegetables with the quinoa, spinach and red peppers. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad, tossing to mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving. The salad will keep for 2 to 3 days.

Serves 6-8

Quinoa Box
Summer vegetables diced

Creamy Risotto with English Peas, Lemon and Mint



Creamy Risotto with English Peas, Lemon and Mint



This is a great spring time recipe that works well as a first course or a side dish. I love the sweet flavor of English peas, but frozen ones will work fine. You can easily substitute asparagus for the peas. Just snap the ends off 1 pound of thin asparagus and cut the spears on the bias into ½” lengths. Stir them into the risotto in Step 4 after the broth has absorbed for 5 mintues.


Download Creamy Risotto with English Peas Recipe


4 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth  

2 ½ cups water  

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped


2 cups Arborio rice  

1 cup dry white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc

2 cups English peas, shelled (about 12 ounces) or frozen petite peas

2 ounces Parmigiano cheese, grated (1 cup) 

3tablespoons minced fresh mint  

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest  

2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

 Ground black pepper  


1. Bring the broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and keep the broth warm over the low heat.


2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until lightly browned, about 9 minutes.


3. Stir in the rice and cook until the edges begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until it is completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.


4. Add 3 cups of the warm broth mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, about every 3 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed, about 10-12 minutes.


5. Continue to cook, stirring in roughly 1/2 cup of the broth every few minutes, until the rice is cooked through but is still somewhat firm in the center, about 9-10 minutes.


6. Add the peas and another 1/2 cup broth. Continue to simmer and stir until the peas are just cooked and the rice is just tender to the tooth, another 3 to 4 min. Stir in another splash of broth if the risotto is too thick. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mint, lemon juice, lemon zest, and the Parmigiano.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the risotto immediately with a sprinkling of Parmigiano and a wedge of lemon and sprig of mint.

Risotto cooking 2

Homemade Cinnamon-Sugared Buttermilk Doughnuts

Cinnamon Sugared Buttermilk Doughnuts2

Homemade Cinnamon-Sugared Buttermilk Doughnuts

Doughnuts were a Sunday tradition in my house. Everyone sitting around the kitchen table, sipping coffee, reading various sections of the paper, (I usually opted for Parade Magazine) and reaching for a doughnut. Sometimes my sister would arrive with a variety box of Dunkin Donuts, other times it would be store bought Freihofer’s mixed dozen – plain, powdered, and cinnamon sugar (my favorite). This recipe from ‘The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook’ delivers a near perfect old fashioned country doughnut - crunchy on the outside, moist nutmeg spiced cake on the inside. I rolled mine in cinnamon sugar, but they’re great plain, with powdered sugar, or even a chocolate glaze. Make them when you’ve got plenty of friends and family around to enjoy them while they’re warm – they do not store well. A note from the cookbook: One of the secrets to the best buttermilk doughnut recipe was the right frying medium. Vegetable shortening in the form of Crisco produced a much less greasy doughnut than vegetable oil or peanut oil. Temperature is important, too - at 350 degrees, the dough absorbed too much oil; at 385 degrees the outside started to burn before the inside could cook through. Best results are achieved by bringing the oil up to 375 degrees before adding the doughnuts; it falls back to 360-365 degrees once the doughnuts are dropped in.

Download Homemade Cinnamon Sugared Buttermilk Doughnuts


3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for surfaces

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2       teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1teaspoon table salt

1 ½ teaspoons fresh grated nutmeg

¾ cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 egg yolk

6 cups vegetable shortening for frying


1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon

1. Mix 1 cup flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment.

2. Mix buttermilk, butter, and eggs in 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add wet ingredients to the dry; beat on medium speed (number 4 setting on a KitchenAid) until smooth, about 30 seconds. Decrease speed to low (number 2 setting on a KitchenAid); add remaining flour and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. Stir batter once or twice with wooden spoon or rubber spatula to ensure that all liquid is incorporated. (The dough will be moist and tacky, a cross between cake batter and cookie dough.)

3. Fit candy thermometer to side of cast-iron kettle or large, heavy-bottomed soup kettle; gradually heat shortening over medium-high heat to 375 degrees (or use a deep fryer if you have one). Meanwhile, turn dough onto floured work surface. Roll with heavily floured rolling pin to 1/2-inch thick. Stamp out dough rings with heavily floured doughnut cutter, reflouring between cuts. Transfer dough rounds to jelly roll pan or large wire rack. Gather scraps and gently press into disk; repeat rolling and stamping process until all dough is used. (Cut doughnuts can be covered with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature up to 2 hours.)

4. Carefully drop dough rings into hot fat four or five at a time, depending on kettle size. Turn doughnuts as they rise to surface with tongs, a Chinese skimmer, or a slotted spoon. Fry doughnuts until golden brown, about 50 seconds per side. Drain on paper towel-lined jelly roll pan or wire rack. Repeat frying, returning fat to temperature between each batch.

5. Mix sugar with cinnamon in small bowl. Cool doughnuts about 1 minute and toss with cinnamon sugar to coat.

Makes about 15 doughnuts

Buttermilk doughnut dough mixer
 Buttermilk doughnut dough

Buttermilk doughnut dough cut
Buttermilk doughnuts precook
Buttermilk doughnut side 1 cook
Buttermilk doughnut  side 2 cook
Buttermilk doughnuts sugared

Grandma Moore’s Easy Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake piece

For some reason, I recently had a hankering for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, a staple in our house when I was growing up. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a wonderfully moist chocolate cake that was created, according to food legend, by the wife of a Hellman’s salesman to help increase his sales. Although it may seem like an odd ingredient, the mayonnaise is used in place of eggs and oil, making it handy to throw together with just a few pantry ingredients. It was probably one of the first cake recipes that I could make on my own (by age 11 or so), carefully following the directions on the back of the Hellman’s Mayonnaise jar. I thought that I’d be able to find the recipe online, but it proved to be a bit of a challenge.  None of the current recipes matched the one I followed years ago (most used a cake mix). I knew that the original recipe called for boiling water, because it was the one step that always made me nervous as I poured the hot water in a measuring cup. I decided to search the always reliable Cook’s Illustrated for the recipe. They have one that uses mayonnaise called “The Best Easy Chocolate Cake”, which has been updated to included chopped bittersweet chocolate and brewed coffee, and though sounded great, I was on a mission to find the cake of my youth. I phoned my Mom, who said she hadn’t made it in years, but recalled that indeed “there was always a mayonnaise cake in our kitchen”.  She suggested calling my Aunt, who still had a copy of the now vintage PTA cookbook, which she felt would surely contain the recipe. As predicted, my aunt had the recipe but it turned out to be her mother’s recipe, so I was thrilled to try my grandmother’s recipe for mayonnaise cake. The method was exactly as I remembered and the resulting cake was spot on – utterly moist with uniquely chocolate flavor.

Grandma Moore’s Easy Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Makes one 9" square cake

 Download Grandma Moore's Easy Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake recipe

1/3 cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa

1 cup boiling water

11/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup mayonnaise

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust racks to middle position. Grease and flour 9x9” square or use baking spray.

2. Whisk together cocoa and boiling water in a medium bowl until smooth and cool to room temperature. When cool, whisk in vanilla and mayonnaise.

3. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, soda and salt. Add chocolate mixture and beat on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute until smooth.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 23-26 minutes or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean and cake springs back when lightly pressed.

5. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack, 1 to 2 hours. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, cut into squares, and serve straight from the pan; or turn cake out onto serving platter and dust with confectioners’ sugar or frost with favorite vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake baked

Classic Sole Florentine (Make Ahead)

Sole florentine 1
Classic Sole Florentine (Make Ahead)

This is a classic dish adapted from the Best Make Ahead Recipes cookbook – one of my favorite books. It’s perfect for dinner parties because you can pop the pre-prepared dish in the oven 20 minutes before serving.  Frozen chopped spinach works well, but make sure to squeeze out as much of the water as possible. I usually put it in a fine mesh strainer and press it firmly with a wooden spoon; then press it between layers of paper towel to remove most of the moisture (otherwise it waters down the sauce).

Download Classic Make Ahead Sole Florentine recipe

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)

2 cups heavy cream

4 teaspoons cornstarch

Salt and ground black pepper

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 teaspoon minced fresh dill

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)

8 sole fillets, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick

15 Ritz crackers, crushed fine (3/4 cup)

1 lemon, cut into wedges (for serving)

1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the thyme and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 3/4 cups of the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup heavy cream and cornstarch together, then stir into the saucepan. Continue to simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

2. Combine 1 cup of the sauce, spinach, dill, and Parmesan in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Coat a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

3. Place the fish on a cutting board, smooth side down. Divide the spinach filling equally among the fish fillets, mounding it in the middle of each fillet. Fold the tapered end of the fish tightly over the filling and then fold the thicker end of the fish over the top to make a tidy bundle.

4. Arrange the fish bundles in the baking dish, seam side down (leaving space between each roll). Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the fish.

5. TO STORE: Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

6. TO SERVE: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Sprinkle the fish with the Ritz cracker crumbs and bake until all but the very center of the fish turns from translucent to opaque and the filling is hot, about 20 minutes. Serve with the lemon wedges.


Easy Homemade Herb Vinaigrette

Greens and vinaigrette
Easy Homemade Herb Vinaigrette

Homemade vinaigrettes are so easy that there is no reason to ever slather your greens in store bought dressings. After I mix the ingredients together, I like to store mine in a small mason jar, so that I can shake it well before using (in case the oil and vinegar have separated). The addition of a small amount of mayonnaise helps keep the dressing stabilized.  I usually use Champagne vinegar, but a good red wine vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice will work as well. 

Download Easy Homemade Herb Vinaigrette recipe

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar (see other choices above)

1 1/2 teaspoons very finely minced shallot

1/2 teaspoon mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon table salt

A few grinds of ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tablespoon fresh minced parsley or chives

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon, marjoram, or oregano

1. Combine vinegar, shallot, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste in small nonreactive bowl. Whisk until mixture is milky in appearance and no lumps of mayonnaise remain.

2. Place oil in small measuring cup so that it is easy to pour. Whisking constantly, very slowly drizzle oil into vinegar mixture. If pools of oil are gathering on surface as you whisk, stop addition of oil and whisk mixture well to combine, then resume whisking in oil in slow stream. Vinaigrette should be glossy and lightly thickened, with no pools of oil on its surface. Add herbs just and whisk to combine. Pour into mason jar and cover with lid. Can be made a couple of hours in advance and left at room temperature; store leftover vinaigrette in refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Herb vinaigrette bowl
Mixed Field Greens Vinaigrette

Classic Almond Cake

Almond cake cut
Classic Almond Cake (Torta di Mandorla)

This traditional Italian cake from Cook’s Illustrated is moist, dense and packed with almonds. It makes an elegant dessert when served with whipped cream or crème fraîche and fresh raspberries that have been tossed in a bit of sugar and Amaretto.

 Download Classic Almond Cake recipe

14 ounces blanched slivered almonds (about 3 1/2 cups)

1 ¼ cups sugar (8 3/4 ounces)

1/8 teaspoon salt

¾ cup cake flour (3 ounces)

½ teaspoon baking powder

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 large eggs, at room temperature

½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)

½ cup whole milk (do not use lowfat)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

2. Spread the almonds out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until very lightly toasted and fragrant, 5 to 6 minutes (do not over toast); let cool completely. Process the almonds, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the salt in a food processor until very finely ground with a texture that resembles flour, about 10 seconds. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse to incorporate, about 5 pulses; set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating briefly after each addition to incorporate. Add the ground almond mixture and beat until just incorporated. Add the milk and beat until just incorporated.

4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the cake is puffed and golden on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.

5. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and let the cake cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Serve on its own, or with berries and cream.

6. To Store: Remove the cake pan bottom and wrap the fully cooled cake tightly in plastic wrap. Store the cake at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. (If frozen, let the cake thaw completely at room temperature, 2 to 4 hours.) To warm the cake, unwrap it and place on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Almond cake prebake
Almond cake slice

Pan Seared Filet Mignon with Red Wine Shallot Reduction

Filet mignon red wine sauce

Pan Seared Filet Mignon with Red Wine Shallot Reduction

This is a great way to prepare filet mignon for an elegant at home dinner. It’s best to have all of the ingredients prepped, measured, and set aside – it makes the recipe much easier to follow. Use a nice Cabernet, there will be plenty leftover to enjoy with your dinner. The sauce has incredible flavor, is so easy to throw together, and can be used with any favorite steak – rib-eye, porterhouse etc.

Download Pan Seared Filet Mignon with Red Wine Sauce

Pan Seared Filet Mignon

4 center-cut filets mignons, 1 1/2 inches thick, 7 to 8 ounces each, dried thoroughly with paper towels

4 teaspoons olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper


Red Wine Shallot Reduction

2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2/3 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon

2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon minced fresh chives

1 teaspoon minced fresh Italian parsley

Ground black pepper

For the steaks:

1. Position oven rack in lower-middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. When the oven reaches 450 degrees, heat 10-inch heavy-bottomed skillet (do NOT use nonstick) over high heat on stovetop until very hot, about 3 minutes.

2. While skillet preheats, rub each side of steaks with 1/2 teaspoon oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper. Place the filets in skillet and cook, without moving steaks, until well-browned and a nice crust has formed, about 3 minutes. Turn steaks with tongs and cook until well-browned and a nice crust has formed on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat, and use tongs to transfer steaks to hot baking sheet in oven.

3. Roast 2 to 4 minutes for very rare, 4 to 6 minutes for rare, 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare, or about 8 to 10 minutes for medium. Transfer steaks to large plate; loosely tent with foil, and let rest about 5 minutes before serving.

For the Red Wine Sauce:

1. Using the same skillet (do not clean skillet or discard accumulated fat), add shallots and sugar off heat; using pan’s residual heat, cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are slightly softened and browned and sugar is melted, about 45 seconds.

2. Return skillet to high heat, add wine, broth, and bay leaf; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits on pan bottom with wooden spoon. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Stir in vinegar and mustard; cook at medium heat to blend flavors, about 1 minute longer. Off heat, whisk in butter until melted and sauce is thickened and glossy. Add thyme, chives and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf, spoon sauce over steaks and serve immediately.

Filet seared