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Arugula Salad with Figs, Prosciutto, Walnuts, and Parmesan

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The sweet and salty ingredients of this salad pair beautifully with the peppery arugula. I was hesitant of the dried figs, as I love fresh ones, but the idea of softening them in raspberry jam and balsamic is pretty brilliant and made this salad interesting and unique. I would definitely make it again. If you don’t want crispy prosciutto, you can simply cut it into ribbons and use it as a garnish.

from: America’s Test Kitchen
serves: 6

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch strips
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry jam
1/2 cup dried figs, stems removed, fruit chopped
1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces loosely paked baby arugula, washed and dried
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

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Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat; add the prosciutto and fry until crisp, stirring frequently. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel lined plate and set aside to cool.

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Whisk the vinegar and jam together in a medium microwave-safe bowl until combined; stir in the figs. Cover with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in the plastic, and microwave on high until the figs are plump, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

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Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, the shallot, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until combined. Cool to room temperature.

Toss the arugula with the vinaigrette in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the salad among individual plates or bowls; top each with a portion of the prosciutto, walnuts, and Parmesan. Serve.

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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

 

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America’s Test Kitchen does it again. Testing and experimenting until they find the perfect and most well-loved result. These gluten free lemon ricotta pancakes are the stuff of my brunch dreams. Light and impossibly airy, with the creamy flavor of ricotta and a lovely brightness from lemon zest and juice to balance the richness of the ricotta. They are delicious drizzled with honey in lieu of maple syrup, but I strongly encourage you to make the pear-blackberry topping. The pinch of cardamom gives the fruit a special boost in flavor and I can’t imagine eating these pancakes without this fruit topping. The pomegranate seeds add another layer of beauty and flavor. If you don’t need your lemon-ricotta pancakes to be gluten free, this recipe from Bobby Flay I made a few years ago is also very good (not as light & airy though!).

from: The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook
makes: 12- 14 pancakes

lemon-ricotta pancakes

3 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) ATK Gluten Free Flour Blend
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, separated, plus 2 large whites (4 whites and 2 yolks, separated)
1/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 4 teaspoons juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
vegetable oil or canola spray for griddle

pear-blackberry compote

3 ripe pears, peeled, cored, halved, and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
pinch salt
pinch ground cardamom
1 cup blackberries, halved if large
pomegranate seeds- optional
butter-optional

for the compote

Combine pears, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cardamom in bowl and microwave until pears are softened but not mushy and juices are slightly thickened, 4-6 minutes, stirring once halfway through microwaving. Stir in blackberries and set aside while you make the pancakes.

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for the pancakes

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees F. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Whisk flour blend, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl, and make well in center. Add ricotta, egg yolks, milk, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla and whisk until combined. Stir in melted butter.

Using stand mixer (or hand held mixer) fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip whites to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Grandually add sugar and whip until glossy, soft peaks form, 1-2 minutes. Transfer 1/3 of the whipped egg whites to batter and whisk gently until mixure is lightened. Using rubber spatula, gently fold remaining egg whites into batter.

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Spray a 12 inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat or use an electric griddle set to 350 degrees (also prepared with cooking spray). When skillet or griddle is hot, ladle pancake batter, leaving 2 inches between each portion. Using back of ladle, gently spread each portion into a round. Cook until edges are set and first side is deep golden brown. Flip pancakes and continue to cook until second side is golden brown. Serve immediately, or transfer to wire rack in preheated oven. Repeat with remaining batter.

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Butter pancakes if desired (yes, you want to) and top with pear-blackberry compote and pomegranate seeds, if using.

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Brown Sugar Bacon

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David and I recently had some amazing bacon with our brunch at Beatrix in Chicago. It was bacon cooked with brown sugar and coarsely ground black pepper. It was amazing. There are many recipes for brown sugar bacon online, but I chose this one from Gina Neely. It tastes pretty close to the bacon we had in Chicago, and we both really enjoyed the little kick from the chile pepper. This mouth-watering bacon is of course delicious all by itself, but would certainly still shine next to some steaming scrambled eggs or Belgian waffles.

from: Food Network
serves: 2-4

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or ground chile de arbol
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra
1/2 pound thick cut bacon, 8 slices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper together. Shake with bacon in a zip-top freezer bag until bacon is evenly coated with the mixture.

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Line a baking sheet with a wire rack and place the bacon strips on it. Pat any remaining spice mixture onto the bacon. Adjust pepper mill for a coarser grind and sprinkle the bacon with additional ground pepper to taste.

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Bake until bacon is crisp- it could take anywhere from 15-35 minutes. The bacon I used was very thick, and took closer to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and using tongs, place bacon on a serving plate to cool slightly before serving.

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Fennel & Feta with Pomegranate Seeds & Sumac

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This salad is beautiful to look at and a holiday for the taste buds. The fennel and tarragon with their mirroring flavors, present a nice base for the jewel-like pomegranate seeds, the briny feta, and the complementary spice of sumac.

from: Ottolenghi
serves: 4

pomegranate seeds*, to taste
2 medium fennel heads
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sumac, plus extra to garnish
juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 1/2 ounces Greek feta cheese, sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Remove the delicate leaves of the fennel, reserving some for the final garnish. Trim the base, making sure you leave enough of it still attached, so the slices don’t fall apart. Slice very thinly lengthwise (a mandoline or V-Slicer would come in handy).

In a bowl, mix the olive oil, sumac, lemon juice, herbs, and some salt and pepper. Add the fennel and toss well. Taste for seasoning, keeping in mind the feta will add saltiness.

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Layer the fennel, then the feta, and then the pomegranate seeds in individual serving dishes. Garnish with the reserved fennel leaves, sprinkle over some sumac, and serve immediately.

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*Trader Joes and many groceries carry ready-to-use pomegranate seeds in refrigerated produce. If you are obtaining the seeds directly from the pomegranate, roll the fruit to loosen the seeds. Halve the pomegranate along it’s belly, then hold the half firmly in your hand with the seeds facing your palm. Over a large bowl, start bashing the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon. Don’t hit too hard or you’ll bruise the seeds and break the skin. The seeds will just fall out. Pick out any white skin that falls in.

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Negroni with Oregano

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If I had to pick a desert island cocktail that I would drink for all my stranded days on a lone isle (Palawan Island, perhaps?) it would most likely be a tie between a negroni and the old fashioned I make with Old Tom Ransom gin (oh, who am I kidding? Any well-made old fashioned will do). The edge would probably have to go to the Negroni, only because I have loved it longer. The pleasing and sophisticated flavors have never gotten old, and although I can fall into a bit of a rut with cocktails (for the past years it’s been all about gin and rye) I always find sublime pleasure in this sweet and slightly bitter cocktail. Classic preparations of the negroni are made with equal parts of the spirits and garnished with a lemon or orange twist. Some people like to top their negroni with a splash of soda, but not this girl. I keep the fizzy stuff for G & T’s.

adapted from: Food + Wine
makes 1 drink

1 ounce London-style gin (I used a local gin by Detroit City Distillery)
1 ounce sweet vermouth (I prefer Dolin rouge)
1 ounce Campari
1 sprig oregano

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Stir spirits with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube, or serve neat. Slap the oregano sprig between your palms to lightly bruise and release the aromatic oils. Garnish with the oregano and serve.

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Chewy Dark Chocolate Meringue Cookies

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What would you get if you combined the fudginess of a brownie, the chewiness of a macaron, and the lightness of a meringue? You would get this glorious chocolate meringue cookie which also has a bit of tartness from the dried cherries, and some crunch from the walnuts. The best part for me is that these cookies have no flour, so they are naturally gluten-free as well. They were fun to make, incredibly yummy, and I loved that they lasted a whole week. I usually share the cookies and desserts I make, but these David and I kept all to ourselves! I made these cookies one afternoon and let them cool on the pans while I went upstairs to finish some laundry. When I came back downstairs, David had come home from work and was standing over the cookies. “Did you taste one?” I asked. He replied, “No. I tasted four!”. Yes, they are that good. A big thank to you my mother-in-law for the recipe (Thank you Marge!) I think this recipe will provide a great base for a little experimentation. Next time I’m thinking about omitting the cherries and nuts, and then topping them with a drizzle of caramel, butterscotch, or perhaps more dark chocolate. Stay tuned!

from: Parade Magazine December 6th
makes: approximately 36 cookies

4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
12 oz (70-72% cacao) dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, plus walnut halves for garnish
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries or cranberries

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Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until completely smooth, and set aside to cool (you don’t want to add hot, melted chocolate to whipped egg whites).

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a hand mixer or standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites, lemon juice, vanilla and salt until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in chocolate, walnuts, and cherries.

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Scrape half of batter into a large zip-top plastic bag. Cut a 3/4 inch hole in one bottom corner of the bag. Pipe 2 inch cookies onto prepared cookie sheets. They don’t spread much, so you can place them somewhat close together. Repeat with remaining batter and a clean zip-top bag (although I fit all of the batter in one large zip top). Top each cookie with a walnut half.

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Bake for 15 minutes or until outside is set and dry.

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Cool completely on sheet pans. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup

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Sometimes I buy a head of cauliflower. Probably because I have grand plans of eating it raw for a healthy snack, but shamefully and pretty often I choose something less healthy for a snack, and that head of cauliflower looks at me pitifully every time I open the vegetable drawer. I decided to make something out of that head of cauliflower, and ended up with this soup which was tasty and filling. While the consistency is thick, the soup still maintains an airy texture as well. The crispy prosciutto kind of made the soup extra special, so don’t omit it.

from: Cooking Light
serves: 4

1 large cauliflower head, cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 thin slices prosciutto or other cured ham, chopped (about 1 1/2 oz)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

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