Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Romanesco Mediterranean Salad – Foodie Fun

Romanesco Salad 3Wow, now where did October go, friends?  Is it really November?  I can’t believe that I’ve been at the new job for a month already, or that I just finished my first graduate school mid-terms, or that my birthday twin is about to turn one year old (That would be my niece, Izzy-bear.  Yes, she was born on my birthday!).  What a packed year and how quickly its end approaches.  Alas, that also means the end to my local Farmer’s Market, which is about to shutdown for the winter.

I hate to admit that I ended up throwing away most of the produce I’d pick up each Sunday at the market (Told you it was a packed year!).  With mid-terms overRomanesco Head Close Up and finals not quite here yet, however, I now have a weekend or two to have some foodie fun and get my kitchen creativity on.  Yay!  Of course, as the weather is cooling down so are the in-season selections, but it also means those spring-time cool weather crops that I missed are making their second appearance like this little, difficult to find beauty: Romanesco.

I can’t believe I actually came across this lovely piece of natural art, but there it was: a bright green mound of fractal florets surrounded by colorful orange and purple cauliflower.  How could I resist?  It was like when I found those fiddle-head ferns.  I couldn’t wait to have some fun thinking up something fun and new.

Romanesco Head Close Up 2The first step, of course, was to taste the Romanesco.  From what I had read, I knew to expect some sort of cauliflower/broccoli blend.  Considering that it is also more often called Romanesco Broccoli than Romanesco Cauliflower, I was prepared for my taste buds to meet something along the metallic flavor I tend to get from broccoli.  To my surprise, I found Romanseco to have the sweeter profile of cauliflower, only nuttier, but still with the slight bite of broccoli.  If you are a cruciferous fan, I definitely recommend this veggie!

So what to do with the two heads of Romanesco I had purchased?  Since part of Romanesco Salad 2this vegetable’s appeal is it’s exotic appearance, I knew I wanted to maintain whole florets.  However, I didn’t want to just steam the Romanesco.  I mean, I was supposed to be having FUN.  So of course I turned to Emilie’s and my favorite cooking resource:  the Flavor Bible.

Now Romanesco is a bit too exotic to have its own entry in this tome, however now that I knew what it tasted like I flipped to the cauliflower entry and perused the suggested pairings…and at the top of the list, in bold type nonetheless, was…anchovies.


Heck, why not? Time to stretch my kitchen skills after such a long hiatus, right? Right!

Romanesco Salad 1Continuing down the list, I determined  a simple, Mediterranean style dressing would be the perfect solution to show off these pretty florets both visually and flavor-wise.  And if I do say so myself,  this Romanesco salad turned out to be quite versatile. I ate it fresh (well, post photo-op) while it was warm, but throughout the week I found myself nibbling on the refrigerated leftovers.  This recipe is readily a main dish, a side dish, and a tapas and can be served warm, room-temperature, or cold. Not a bad deal, I say.

And it was definitely fun.

Mission accomplished!

Romanesco Mediterranean Salad


Romanesco Salad Ready for Assembly

  • 2 heads Romanesco Broccoli/Cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, about 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 tablespoons small capers
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • cooking spray
  1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and anchovy paste, whisking together until emulsified.  Set aside.Romanesco Salad Dressing
  2. Fill a saucepan with 3/4 to 1 inch of water and insert steamer basket and bring to a boil.  While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the Romanesco.
  3. With a paring knife, carefully cut florets from the Romanesco to preserve their unique fractal shape.
  4. Once the water comes to a boil, place the Romanesco florets into the steamer basket and cover.  Steam 3-5 minutes depending on desired tenderness. When finished transfer florets to a large bowl filled with cool water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and set aside.Romanesco Salad Steaming
  5. While Romanesco is steaming, spray a pan with cooking spray and heat over medium. Once pan is heated, toast breadcrumbs for about 2-3 minutes until golden. Remove from heat.
  6. In a large bowl, combine steamed florets, capers, and redpepper flakes.  Pour in the anchovy dressing and toss ingredients to coat.  Add toasted breadcrumbs and toss one more time to combine ingredients.Romanesco Salad Dressing Salad
  7. Serve at room temperature as tapas or a side dish.

Romanesco Salad 5

Homemade Maple Coconut Almond Butter – New Year, New Beginnings

Maple Coconut Almond Butter 2Well now, how has everyone’s 2015 so far? I hope it’s been fantastic, because I have never been more excited for a new year in my life.  Why, you might ask? Well, because for the first time ever I am allowing myself to be exited about it. Rather than dread another year and what it could possibly throw at me this time, I am going to be open and receptive to all the new beginnings it might hold for me.  Want to ride along?

Now I can’t share every new beginning with you.  After all, Cork and Spoon is a food and drink blog.  Soooo, you may not see my latest jewelry pieces, hear my current running play-list, or see my newborn niece’s photo-shoot, but you will see any tummy yummy goodies inspired by those experiences. Just to warn you, though, all experiences are fair game: good or bad.  After all, they both teach us something.  My own bad experiences over the past two years have taught me that creativity has healing powers, that it can be the spark that ignites the flame which lights the way out of the darkest pit.

In conjunction with honoring my creative side, another spark for me has been myMaple Coconut Almond Butter 3 running.  As you may recall, I completed my first race (a half-marathon!) last spring.  Well, I’m training for my next one, which is just over a month away.  Besides the various runs and exercises loaded up in a runner’s training plan, another important piece is the “fuel plan” as I call it: how you plan to fuel your training and your run.  For example, once you start getting into Long Runs, meaning a run that lasts longer than an hour, you not only need to make sure the tank’s full when you start, but you’re going to have to re-fuel mid run.  It’s better to learn what works with your body during training rather than find out on race day that coffee gives your the runs or a certain gel gives you heartburn. Needless to say, it’s a pretty good idea to incorporate your race day breakfast and any pre-race snacks and hydration into your training plan.  For me, my race day and Long Run day breakfast has become a bagel (preferably the latest Thomas’ Bagel limited edition flavor) and creamy almond butter.

Maple Coconut Almond Butter 4Mmmmmm, almond butter.  I mean, I love peanut butter, too, but after making the switch I don’t think I’ll go back except as  a treat (Reeses anyone?).  Mostly, I do prefer the flavor, but nutritionally almond butter has just a little bit of a leg up over peanut butter, especially for runners, athletes, and other highly active people.  In addition to having significantly greater levels of the anti-oxidant Vitamin E, almond butter also provides magnesium (supports muscle functions and energy production…and is said to help migraines!) as well as iron (necessary for producing hemoglobin and myoglobin, which are essential for the carrying of oxygen the body). Not to mention almonds are going to be easier on your body on race day. Almonds are actual nuts, while peanuts are legumes…you know…like beans…yeah, chili will not be anywhere on my plate until after the race.  Did I mention my next half marathon is in Texas??

Now what really  bites is that almond butter is typically, at it’s cheapest, twice Maple Coconut Almond Butter 5the cost of peanut butter.  That’s why when my beautiful chartreuse Blendtec (a birthday present to myself) arrived a couple of weeks ago, I already had homemade almond butter on my “to-make” list. Since my favorite almond butter is Justin’s Maple Almond Butter, I decided I wanted to make something similar and it would be a great way to use my maple sugar, which I don’t get to use very often (It’s pricey, so I use it for special recipes).  I also decided to use coconut oil instead of grapeseed oil for two reasons. First, it added a little sweetness without more sugar. Second, it’s winter.

Who in the northern hemisphere isn’t craving a warm beach right now? Lol!

Happy New Year, friends!

Homemade Maple Coconut Almond Butter

Makes appx. 7 ounces (0.875 cups)

IngredientsAlmond Butter Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups raw almonds
  • 4 tablespoons maple sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt (fine not coarse)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted for better results, but room temperature is fine).
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)

Tip: To adjust for increased creaminess, add mild flavored oil, such as canola or grapeseed, beginning with 1 teaspoon and increasing until blended almond butter reaches desired creaminess.


  1. Pre-heat oven to 170°F.
  2. Spread almonds evenly on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes, tossing almonds halfway through for even roasting. If needed, allow almonds to cool enough for handling, but make sure they are still warm.
  3. Pour warm almonds into your mixer jar or food processor bowl.
  4. Pulse almonds until pulverized into almond meal. Almond Butter PulseNote: Professional grade blenders such as Vitamixes and Blendtecs don’t really need this step, but for less powerful appliances, better safe than blowing out your motor. 
  5. Starting on a low speed and blend almond meal for 15 seconds.
  6. Increase to a high speed for 30-60 seconds, or until you hear the blade moving freely,i.e. your almond butter is stuck to the sides of the jar/bowl and no longer getting pulverized by the blade.
  7. Stop blender or food processor and use a rubber spatula to scrape the almond butter back into center of jar/bowl.
  8. Add coconut oil once the almond meals begins to form a paste.
  9. Repeat the blend then scrape cycle until almond butter begins to flow freely over the blades.  Note: Your appliance’s motor should sound low, as if it’s working to churn that sticky butter. Remember to keep a watch on your appliance’s motor. If the machine gets too warm, stop the process and allow the motor to cool down.
  10. Add maple sugar and salt to the almond butter,  as well as maple syrup  and any additional oil for creaminess if using these options.
  11. Blend 30-60 seconds on high.  Repeat as necessary to reach desired creaminess.
  12. Refrigerate almond butter in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Almond Butter Almond Meal   Almond Butter PasteAlmond Butter Almost Ready  Almond Butter Ready

Maple Coconut Almond Butter 1

Garlic Naan and a Duo of Dips

Many of summer’s best moments include sharing food and laughs with good friends. Whether I am attending a backyard BBQ or picnicking in the park with friends, these moments never fail to make me happy. If I had to pick a favorite place to share sunshine and food with friends though, it would be a winery. Wine makes everything better (obviously) and the bucolic scenery and atmosphere are prefect for unwinding. Share a couple bottles of wine;  indulge in plates of breads, cheese, and crudités; and chat with friends. It really is the perfect day.

As someone who loves to cook and try new recipes, these types of events are extra fun because they give me the chance to try new recipes designed for sharing. So, when Ellen invited me along for a trip to Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn in Delaplane, VA, I immediately said yes and began planning my contribution to the picnic. After some debate, I finally decided on a couple of unique dips and homemade garlic naan.

Naan and 2 Dips- naan with yogurt and lentil dips 2The dips, both based on recipes from Food & Wine, were simple to make – especially the yogurt-mint dip which was a simple as stirring 3 ingredients together – and could easily be served with pita if you aren’t up for making naan.

Really though, you should make the naan! It is more labor intensive than the dips, but it simple and hard to mess up. It is a great recipe for someone who wants to start working with yeast breads but is a bit nervous about the whole process. Tom and I fell in love with the naan, and could have easily eaten every piece if I wasn’t saving it for the picnic.

Naan and 2 Dips- naan with yogurt and lentil dips

Garlic Naan
Adapted from Daydream Kitchen’s Garlic Naan

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
¼ cup white sugar
3 tbs. milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. salt
4 cups bread flour
2 tbs. garlic, minced
⅓ cup butter, melted

1)    In a large bowl combine warm water (approximately 105ºF to 110ºF) with about a teaspoon of your sugar – just eyeball it here- until sugar is fully dissolved. Sprinkle yeast packet over warm water and let stand 10 minutes, until frothy. This is the time I used to mince the garlic.

Naan and 2 Dips-making naan step 1

2)     Stir in remaining sugar, milk, egg, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Once this is all fully combined, add the remaining 3 cups of flour.

Naan and 2 Dips-making naan step 2

3)    Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Begin adding in minced garlic about half way through this process. I added the garlic in 3 different portions to help ensure it made its way throughout the entire dough ball. Dough is read when it is smooth and garlic is pretty evenly distributed.

4)    Place dough in a well oiled bowl, and loosely cover with saran wrap (I spray the saran wrap to avoid the dough sticking to it) and a dry kitchen towel. Let dough rise until it is about double in size. This took about an hour outside on a 95ºF day.

Naan and 2 Dips-let the dough rise 1 Naan and 2 Dips-let the dough rise 2

5)     Punch down dough and pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into rough balls (no need for perfection here), and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Naan and 2 Dips- naan dough balls 2

6)     Preheat a large cast iron pan or grill over high heat.

7)     Roll one dough ball out into a thin circle, about an eight of an inch thick. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with melted butter and flip. Cook another 2 to 4 minutes, until light brown. Continue the process with all of the dough.

8)     If you somehow manage to still have some left, store in an airtight bag or container. It should last 3 or 4 days.

Mint Garlic Dip
Adapted from Food and Wine

2 cups plain Greek yogurt
½ cup finely chopped mint leaves
3-4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
salt & pepper

1)     In a medium sized container with a lid, stir together the yogurt, chopped mince, and minced garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let sit for at least 1 hour (flavors will mingle and intensify the longer the dip rests), serve cold with naan or pita.

Naan and 2 Dips- mix the yogurt mint garlic dip

Spicy Lentil Dip
Adapted from Food and Wine

2 cups brown lentils
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large shallots, cut into large chunks
1 quart vegetable broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

1)     In a large sauce pan, combine vegetable broth, carrot, and shallot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the lentils, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until most of the water has been absorbed and the lentils are tender. It took me about half an hour.

Naan and 2 Dips-lentil dip step 1 Naan and 2 Dips-lentil dip step 1.5

2)     Using a food processor or blender, puree lentils and vegetables (and any leftover liquid). I found this easier to do in 2 batches, and I had to add little more liquid (just less than a ¼ cup) to get it to the right consistency. Set the puree aside.

Naan and 2 Dips- lentil dip step 2

3)     In the original sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the spices to the melted butter and cook for 1-2 minutes. The spices can go from perfect to burned in the blink of an eye, so watch them carefully. Add the pureed lentils and cook for another few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Naan and 2 Dips-lentil dip spices Naan and 2 Dips- lentil dip 3 and a half

4)     Serve warm or room temperature with naan or pita chips.


Meatless Monday: Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

I think we can all admit that Pinterest is a pretty fabulous tool for bookmarking recipes, knitting patterns, outfit inspirations, and pictures of things that just make me smile (I will neither confirm nor deny that I have an entire board dedicated to pictures of turtles). Yet, for all the fun I have pinning a plethora of ideas and inspirations to my boards, I recently realized that I rarely do anything with them. For example, I only attempted a handful of the 150 recipes I’ve taken the time to save (notable favorites being the Brie Baked Artichokes, Roasted Squash Soup, and Matzoh Chocolate Cherry Crunch). Wanting to try something new in the kitchen and knowing I had a wealth of ideas at pinning fingertips, I turned to Pinterest to find my next meal.

I was immediately drawn to a gnocchi dish I had pinned to my recipe board several months ago. The Garlic & Kale Baked Gnocchi dish from A Beautiful Mess looks amazing, but the more I thought about it, the dish felt too heavy for the 98 degree day. By that point, I was set on the idea of gnocchi for dinner, and came up with this gnocchi dish with fresh summer vegetables, light tangy goat cheese, and herbs fresh from my garden.

Gnocci with summer veggies -final plate 2

Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables
serves 4

1 16-ounce package fresh gnocchi
1½ tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 medium zucchini
⅔ cup fresh or frozen sweet corn
1½ tablespoons fresh thyme
salt & pepper
juice of half a lemon
2-4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1.     Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While it boils, halve the zucchinis lengthwise, and cut into slices approximately ¼-inch thick. Once the water has come to a boil, cook gnocchi according to package directions.

Gnocci with summer veggies - ingredients2.     Melt the butter in a heavy large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.

3.      Increase heat to medium-high and add zucchini in a single layer in the pan (or as close to a single layer as you can get). Let cook for 1 minute before adding corn and fresh thyme. Sauté veggies until they begin to brown slightly.

Gnocci with summer veggies - saute the veggies

4.    Add cooked and drained gnocchi to the pan, stir well to mix. Squeeze the lemon over the mixture, stir, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

5.     Remove the pan from heat and stir in crumbed goat cheese. I used about 2-ounces of cheese, but you should adjust as you see fit.


Monday Night Light: Arugula and Poached Egg Pasta

I love poached eggs, but have spent most of my life too nervous to make them at home. Every time I got up the courage to try some “guaranteed” method for poaching, I would be completely disappointed. I end up with over-cooked centers and wispy ghost-like tentacles of egg white. So when I was day dreaming about an open-faced sandwich with peppery arugula and a poached egg a few weeks ago, I decided it might be time to try this whole egg poaching thing again.

During my lunch break, I scoured the internet, hoping beyond hope that there might be some trick hidden 4 or 5 pages deep in the Google search results. Add vinegar to the water? Yep I do that. Swirl the water to create a vortex? Doesn’t work. Instead my wispy egg whites dance around the pot in a circle, mocking me. But then I found this video and thought, “What the heck, it can’t be any worse than my previous attempts.” And let me tell you, I have found THE answer to the perfect poached egg and its so easy. All you need is a small fine mesh strainer about 3 or 4 inches in size, a little oil, and a pot of simmering water with vinegar. I definitely recommend you watch the video, but to summarize: gently pour the egg into the strainer and swirl it around so that the loose egg whites fall through the strainer. This leaves the yolk and the still tight egg white in the strainer, which you then gently release into the simmering water. Then you just let the egg poach to perfection. I added one step to the process though; I spray the strainer lightly with cooking spray before adding the egg, which allows the egg to slide into the water with near perfection.

Poached Egg Pasta - toss in egg yolk

Armed with this potentially world shattering new technique, I went home after work excited for my potentially perfect open-faced poached egg sandwich. Much to my dismay we had no bread in the house, and for a moment my dreams were dashed, but then I remembered Ruth’s recipe for spaghetti and eggs and let that inspire me. Turns out that, with simple lemon vinaigrette to help balance the dish, a poached egg makes an amazing creamy sauce for a light pasta dish for one.

Arugula and Poached Egg Pasta
serves 1

2-3 oz dry long pasta (such as fettuccine or spaghetti)
1½ cups arugula leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of half a large lemon
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
fresh cracked pepper
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1)     For the pasta, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Break the long dry pasta in half and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve ½ a cup of the cooking liquid before draining.

2)     While the pasta is cooking, combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and pepper in a small Tupperware container and shake vigorously to combine. Use a large bowl to coat arugula leaves with dressing.

Poached Egg Pasta - mix the dressing

Poached Egg Pasta - dress arugula

3)     Add cooked pasta to bowl of arugula and toss together, coating the pasta in the dressing as well. If pasta seems a little dry, add reserved cooking water a tablespoon or so at a time.  Transfer to the bowl you plan to eat from and sprinkle with cheese.

Poached Egg Pasta - toss in noodles

3)     At the same time you start your pasta water, fill a wide mouth pot with about 2 cup of water (or enough to have at least 3 inches of water in the pot) and 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Place the pot over medium-low heat and bring to a very gentle simmer. Just before you drain your pasta, place your egg in the water to poach. Cook the egg for about 3-4 minutes over the lowest possible heat setting before removing with a slotted spoon and placing on top of the pasta and arugula.

Poached Egg pasta - the perfect poached egg

Poached Egg Pasta - top with egg

Hominy and Egg Scramble

A few weekends ago, after waking up on a lazy Saturday and spending the first hour of my “morning” (ok it was closer to 11am than 8am) knitting and watching Funny Face for the gazillionth time, I realized I was starving. My first inclination was to whip up my typical weekend breakfast of scrambled eggs, veggie sausage, and toast with raspberry jam – but that was boring. I mentally ran through a list of breakfast foods, dismissing all of them: pancakes – no syrup in the house, omelet – too much work, french toast – see pancakes, and so on. Then I remembered that I always have a can of hominy in the cupboard.

Egg and hominy scramble 1

Growing up, hominy was inexpensive and, as a result, a frequent feature at the dinner table. Typically we cooked it with onions, garlic, and plenty of pepper and I loved it, mostly because of loved the firm dense texture of the kernels and the peppery bite of the seasoning. It was from this childhood sidedish that I got the inspiration to combine the hominy and scrambled eggs for a delicious breakfast. It wasn’t until yesterday, while doing some quick research for this post that I learned the hominy-egg scramble is a pretty common dish in parts Central and South America called mote pillo.

Hominy and Egg Scramble

1 can white hominy
1 green pepper
3 cloves of garlic
avacado oil
salt & pepper
cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
shredded Mexican style or cheddar cheese

1)     Drain and rinse the hominy in cold water. Dice the green pepper into  pieces about a quarter to a half inch in size and finely dice the garlic cloves.

2)     Heat the oil over medium-low heat and saute the garlic and green pepper for about 2 minutes. Add hominy and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook until hominy is heated through, about 8 minutes.

Egg and hominy scramble - sautee the garlic and peppers

Egg and Hominy Scramble - season and sautee the hominy

3)      While the hominy is heating up on the stove, crack 4 eggs into a small bowl and add milk. Whisk together. Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the vegetables.

Egg and Hominy Scramble - pour the egg into the pan

4)    Continue to stir and fold the egg mixture with a rubber spatula until the eggs are no longer liquidy, but are not browning.

Egg and hominy scramble - cook the egg

5)     Sprinkle the scramble with cheese, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Let the cheese melt and then serve hot.

Egg and hominy scramble 2

Red Wine Risotto

Cork and Spoon celebrated its 2nd birthday on Saturday and I had grand plans for celebrating it. I had planned to write a post about our most popular posts based on some different metrics such as most pinned on Pinterest, and most liked. I was going to write about Ruth and I’s favorite posts to write, and more. But, as seems to be a thread in both Ruth and my lives recently, the blog ended up taking a back seat.

Its not secret that Ruth and I have had very full plates recently. Work, GRE studying, moving, and just living life have made it hard for us to find time to cook for ourselves, let alone take pictures of the cooking process and write up posts. Still, I remember a time when I had posts written up Red Wine Risotto 1weeks in advance, and I am making the promise here and now to rededicate myself to sharing delicious bites and treats with our followers and readers. In fact I already have a post ready for Friday! For now, enjoy this simple twist on risotto made with some left over red wine instead of the traditional white wine preparation and I’ll see you back here on Friday – I promise!

Red Wine Risotto
Serves 4

1 large shallot
6 large white or brown mushrooms
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
3-4 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry red wine
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
½ tablespoon butter
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1)     Put the chicken broth on the stove in a small pan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Finely dice the shallot and mushrooms. You should have approximately one cup of mushrooms in about ¼-inch dice.

Red Wine Risotto - finely dice the mushrooms.

2)     Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add shallots and mushrooms to the pot and sauté for 5 minutes. Add arborio rice and thyme and toast for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Red Wine Risotto - sautee the rice

3)     Add 1 cup hot chicken broth and stir constantly. When liquid is mostly absorbed, add ½ cup of red wine, stirring until absorbed.

Red Wine Risotto - stir in the wine

4)     Add another 1 ½ cups of hot chicken broth, ½ a cup at a time. Continue stirring frequently between additions until broth is absorbed.

5)     Add another ½ cup of red wine and stir until absorbed. Add another ½ to 1 cup of broth, testing for doneness between additions.

Red Wine Risotto - stir constantly

6)     Once rice is done and nearly all of the broth is absorbed, add butter and stir until melted. Then add Parmesan and stir until melted and risotto is creamy.

Red Wine Risotto - add the butter

Red Wine Risotto - add the cheese

Mushroom and Arugala Quiche

I have a thing for quiche with its flaky crust, rich cheesy custard like filling, and delicious seasonal vegetables. Its one of the most versatile dishes the novice home cook can make – yes that’s right, you don’t need much experience at the stove to whip one up for yourself to enjoy for an elegant brunch, light dinner, or  cold for an indulgent mid-week lunch at work. Which is why I was surprised recently when I realized that we here at Cork and Spoon have yet to share a recipe for quiche with you.

Plated Mushroom Arugula Quiche

To make a quiche you really only need 3 things: 1 pie crust, 6 eggs, and 1 cup of milk. Everything else is completely up to your imagination – although I strongly encourage you to always include cheese, but they may because I would add cheese to ice cream if I could think of a tasty way to do so. Typically, I choose two seasonal veggies for my quiches, choosing to stay away from meats since the eggs already provide a nearly perfect source of protein. And, while I am a big fan of frozen veggies for their convenience and health benefits, I usually go with fresh vegetables in my quiches because the water content of frozen veggies can mess with the texture of the final quiche. Exceptions to this “rule” are veggies that can be defrosted and then the water squeezed out them, like spinach or or other greens.

In addition to the custard-like filling and your mix-ins, you will need a single pie crust. While it is more than okay to use a store bought pie crust, I never have those on hand. But I do have on hand a little flour and vegetable shortening – the 2 ingredients necessary for a great pie crust – so I use a simple recipe from Better Homes and Gardens to make my own. The only drawback to making your own pie crust is you have to make sure you give yourself enough time to let it chill, so it does take a little planning.

Mushroom and Arugula quiche up close

Mushroom and Arugula Quiche
Serves 6-8

Single Pastry Crust
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1 ¼ cups  all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon  kosher salt
1/3 cup  vegetable shortening, chilled
4 – 5 tablespoons  cold water

1)     Whisk together flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, work shortening and flour together until small peas sized crumbs are formed.

Pie crust - combine shortening and flour

2)     Add 4 tablespoons cold water and use a fork to gently mix water in before lightly kneading to form smooth dough. Add more water if necessary, careful not to overwork dough.

3)     Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

wrap in plastic and chill

4)     On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 9-inch circle. Lay dough in pie pan, carefully pressing it into the sides of pan.

roll out pie dough

5)     Par-bake your crust by covering it with parchment paper, or foil sprayed one side, and filling with pie weights, rice, or beans. Bake for 12 minutes at 400°F.

For the Quiche

6 large eggs
1 cup whole or 2% milk
8 ounces mushroom, thickly sliced
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 cups roughly chopped arugula
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 par-baked pie crust

1)    Once your pie crust is done par-baking, drop oven heat to 350°F.

2)     Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until golden brown, about 10 minutes, adding minced garlic in at the end and cooking for an additional minute. Remove from heat and let cool.

sautee mushrooms

3)     In a large bowl whisk together 6 eggs, 1 cup milk, and salt and pepper. Fold in arugula and mushrooms. Add cheese.

eggs and milk for quiche

whisk together eggs

4)     Pour egg mixture into prepared pie crust, place in oven, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out almost completely clean. Let set 5 minutes before serving.

Pour the egg mixture into the pie

Mushroom arugula quiche out of the oven

Radish and Apple Slaw

Early May marks the beginning of real variety at local farmers’ markets in the mid-Atlantic region, including crunchy radishes which I recently picked up while wandering through Eastern Market on a recent Sunday. It was a big bunch of bright red radishes with their leaf greens already removed, which was too bad since I’m a big fan of trying to find the best way to prepare and serve random greens like radish and carrot greens. As I walked home I bit into one of the spicy crunchy delicacies, savoring this underrated taste of sprin.

Radish APple Slaw 2

One of my favorite ways to eat radishes is raw and undressed, either as a snack with lunch or dinner or sliced into a simple green salad. However, raw and undressed radishes, with their peppery bite, are not for everyone so I set about researching delicious ways to use radishes that would compliment the spicy taste without letting it overpower folks’ taste-buds. The first thing I tried was peas with red onions and sauteed radishes, which cut the bite of the radishes and made them a bit sweeter, but also made them soft and almost mushy which is not how a radish should be eaten. After some more research, including finding a Rachel Ray recipe for an apple and radish salad, I decided to do a radish and apple coleslaw recipe with a creamy dressing.

To complete this recipe you will need either a very steady hand and a sharp knife or a mandolin slicer with julienne capability (I received this one a few years ago from my step-sister Lindsey and am in love with it) to create the small matchstick-like pieces of radish and granny smith apple that make the recipe a coleslaw.

Radish & Apple Slaw with Cream Dill-Lemon Dressing
Serves 4

1 large granny smith apple
10 medium/large radishes
half a medium red onion
1 cup light sour cream
juice of 1 medium lemon, about ¼ cup
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon poppyseeds, optional

1)      Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, cut the apple and radishes into equally sized small matchstick shaped pieces. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of the lemon juice to prevent apples from turning brown.

2)    Cut the onion in half so you have 2 quarters of the onion and slice those thinly, so the sliced layers of the onion are similar in size and shape to the julienne apples and radishes. Add to bowl and toss to evenly incorporate.

3)     Whisk together sour cream,  remaining lemon juice, dill, salt & pepper. Add to apple, radish, and onion mixture.

slaw and dressing

4)     Toss the fruit and veggies well to coat with the dressing.

Coat the veggies with the dressing

5)     Dish can be served immediately or stored in the fridge for several days. Do not be surprised in the dressing turns a slightly garish pink color, as the red skin of the radish does have that effect on the sour cream dressing.

Radish Apple Slaw 1

Leeks Vinaigrette Sandwich

It is not hard to get stuck in a rut when it comes to weekday lunches. At my office there is this one gentlemen who, since he started 6 months ago, has eaten the same thing everyday – a big bowl of spaghetti from home. While I’m sure its nice to know exactly what you are eating everyday and not have to add menu planning to an already difficult morning routine, I don’t know that I could last one week on such a boring diet. I get around the potential for boredom by freezing a lot of individual leftover portions, but sometimes those run out and I need something fresh and new to pack in my lunch bag. So I was pretty excited several weeks ago when several leftover Easter eggs and a vague memory of a French dish I’d once heard of inspired me to create a rich, tasty spin on an egg salad sandwich. The recipe was perfect for 2-3 sandwiches, just the right amount to make things interesting and but not so many I was risking falling back into a rut.

Leeks vinegarette sandwich

I had heard once, quite some time ago, about a French dish involving leeks, hard boiled eggs, and vinaigrette called, unsurprisingly, leeks vinaigrette. The traditional recipe calls for several boiled leeks topped with a simple vinaigrette and chopped eggs, but with just one leek in the fridge that recipe wasn’t going to work. Being someone who loves egg sandwiches in whatever their form – egg salad sandwiches, scrambled eggs on toast, even the occasional fried egg on a burger – I decided to make my own spin on leeks vinaigrette between two slices of bread.

The sandwich is wonderful in its simplicity with just 4 ingredients: bread, eggs, marinated leeks, and mayonaise. What takes it up a notch is the complexity of the herbed mayo with the tanginess of the leeks. It is in these two flavorful sub-components that all of the ingredients find their home. Below are recipes for both the leeks and the mayo and a simple explanation on how I combined it all in the sandwich.

Leeks Vinaigrette Sandwich
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
2 slices whole grain bread

Marinated Leeks
1 large leek
½ cup champagne vinegar
¹⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon horseradish grain mustard
salt & pepper

marinate leeks in vinegarette, 2

Herbed Mayo
2 tablespoons mayo
1 finely diced clove of garlic
3 teaspoons finely copped chives

1)     Begin by preparing your leeks, as you want to let them marinate for about a day before using. Thinly slice the white and pale green parts of 1 leek. Separate the leek rings and rinse well. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and add sliced leek to the bowl. Coat well, cover, and place in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.

Marinate leeks in vinegarette

2)     At the same time you prepare the leeks, mix together the mayo, garlic, and chives so the flavors have time to marry.

make herb mayo

3)    To assemble the sandwich: Spread a thin layer of mayo on the inside of each slice of bread. Spread about a quarter cup of well drained leeks over one slice of bread. Layer sliced hard boiled egg over the leeks, top with second bread slice and enjoy.

pile with leeks layer eggs on top